How to Survive Winter: 7 Genius Snow Hacks

Snow is stressful, but just because it’s the dead of winter doesn’t mean you should be left out in the cold. We’re here to make things easier and show you how to survive winter with these brilliant snow hacks.

1. Get a snow rake.

A rake for snow sounds like a joke, but it’s actually one of the best ways to prevent ice dams from forming on your roof. Snow rakes are designed to be used from the ground, with telescopic handles that easily remove snow from areas of your roof around the gutters. This helps melting snow travel through your downspouts instead of backing up into your attic.

2. Wear socks over your shoes.

We promise we’re not (just) trying to make you look like a dork—wearing socks over your shoes before you go out to shovel increases traction over ice and snow. Less slip and fall is always a good thing, are we right? Just make sure you’re using an old pair of socks, because they will get ruined.

3. Mist your shovel with cooking spray.

Scooping your driveway is bad enough, and the only thing that makes it worse is snow sticking to the shovel. Believe it or not, there’s a way to avoid it. Just spray a light coat of cooking oil over both sides of your shovel blade and watch the snow slide right off, every time. No more banging the shovel on the ground between scoops.

4. Lay out a tarp for easy snow cleanup.

If you want to skip the shovel all together, lay out a tarp on your walkways before the storm hits (make sure to stake it down if it’s windy). Once it stops snowing, pull the tarp off into your yard, shake off the snow, and behold your instantly snowless path. Clever you!

5. Set your ceiling fans to spin clockwise.

We all know that heat rises, which would be perfect if we spent our time on the ceiling. This leaves us with the problem of how to get that heat back down where we need it. If you have ceiling fans, you might have noticed that they spin counterclockwise, which draws air up from the floor. You might not know that you can switch your ceiling fan to spin clockwise instead, drawing warm air down from the ceiling to keep you comfortable.

6. Melt frozen locks with hand sanitizer.

Because of its high alcohol content, hand sanitizer is the perfect tool for unfreezing stuck locks. Why does it work so well? Alcohol drastically lowers the freezing point of water, so the outside temperature has to be much colder for water to freeze. Here’s how to pull off this trick (spoiler: it’s really easy): coat your key in sanitizer, then put it in the lock. Best of all, this method will work on any lock, whether it’s your home, your car door or a padlock.

7. Defrost icy car windows with two ingredients.

Everybody hates warming up their frosty car in the morning, but there’s an easy way to save time without having to buy a remote starter. Start by mixing up a solution of 1 part water to 2 parts isopropyl rubbing alcohol, put it in a spray bottle and watch the frost melt away. The solution won’t freeze in a cold car, so you can take it with you wherever you go, and you can even use it to open car doors when they get stuck.

From tips to get around in the snow to energy efficiency audits for your whole home, your NPI inspector is here to help you survive winter. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment!

Get Organized Now: 5 Home Resolutions for the New Year

The start of a new year marks the perfect time to enact positive life changes. What better area to start than the place you call home? Here are five home resolutions that will help you get organized now and create a happy, healthy living environment you can feel proud of.

1. Get Organized

Clutter consistently tops the list of at-home stressors–that’s why it tops our list of resolutions. When it comes to exactly how to get organized, nixing clutter can be tricky. Depending on the type and quantity of items you’re dealing with, as well as the space you have to work in, your solution could vary wildly from the next person’s.

To get organized now, though, here are two rules, that apply to just about everyone’s clutter situation:

1. Donate anything you don’t need and/or don’t use on a regular basis.
2. Make wise decisions about the items you introduce into your home.

When it comes to creating more storage solutions for your home, one key piece of advice is to look up. Mounted wall shelves, cubbies and racks can not only free up valuable floor space, they can also double as attractive décor. Getting organized and giving your space a fresh look to kick off a promising new year is a win-win.

2. Save Energy

We all want to save more, earn more and spend our hard-earned wages on the things that really matter. Recommitting to cutting back on energy use and considering “going green” is a great way to accomplish a little bit of everything in the finance category. You can shave hundreds of dollars off your bill in the course of a year and potentially earn tax write-offs and homeowner’s insurance discounts. Plus, by investing in things like energy-efficient light bulbs, you’re investing in the health of our planet. Check out our best tips for saving energy here.

3. Do That Project You’ve Been Putting Off

Whether it’s re-caulking windows or finally taking down that outdated wallpaper border, we all have that one home maintenance project we’ve been putting off for months (or in some cases, years). Make 2018 the year of doing. It might be a pain to spend a few evenings up on that ladder, but the feeling of getting it done will be well worth it. So put on your favorite music or a podcast and get scraping! (Or caulking, cleaning, refinishing. . .). You may even be able to get the whole family involved.

4. Plant a Tree

Trees are excellent for the environment because they help keep the air clear of pollutants. They can even help save energy by keeping streets cool, cutting down on air conditioning needs in the summer. Trees also happen to be beautiful to look at and neat to watch grow. This year, plant a tree (or a whole row!) as a family. You’ll make fun memories and create lasting good with just one small act.

5. Purify Indoor Air

Even the most spotless homes can feel a little stuffy or take on a musty odor. Now is a great time to make sure that the air quality in your house is top-notch. You’ll likely notice a positive change in your overall mood by:

Cleaning up after your pet. This includes thoroughly cleaning up after any accidents that happen as soon as you can after they occur. You should also vacuum often to remove fur and pet dander from furniture and carpet.

Change your furnace filters. You should change your HVAC system’s filters at least once every three months. They need changed once a month during months of heavy use, like winter.

Don’t smoke inside. Really, don’t smoke at all! But definitely refrain from smoking or allowing others to smoke inside your home.

Open the windows. Every now and again, it’s a good idea to let a little fresh air in the old-fashioned way. This isn’t always possible because of harsh weather conditions, so be sure to take advantage of mild days.

To get a handle on what needs done around your home, call your nearest National Property Inspections inspector today. Our highly trained inspectors have the knowledge and experience to help you accomplish all your home resolutions.

The Best (and Worst) Firewood to Burn This Winter

Whether you’re new to the world of wood-burning stoves and fireplaces or a seasoned veteran (pun fully intended), it helps to know the right woods to use to get the most for your money. Here’s some of the best firewood to burn, along with other kinds you should avoid at all costs this winter.

A Word on Seasoning

Before we get into specific types of wood, we need to mention “seasoning,” a term that will apply to all the woods we talk about going forward. Seasoning refers to the process of drying firewood before it’s burned in your stove or fireplace. Burning unseasoned (or “green”) wood releases more smoke and water vapor, which means more creosote buildup and a greater chance of chimney fires over time.

How can you tell the difference between seasoned and unseasoned wood? It’s easy. Green wood often looks freshly cut with visible saw marks, while seasoned wood will look gray or white. The ends of seasoned wood shows radial cracking and the bark should come off easily. If the wood isn’t cracked and the bark is firmly attached, it’s still green and shouldn’t be used in your fireplace yet.

The Best Firewood to Burn

The firewoods that made our “Best to Burn” list had to meet a number of criteria, including having a high heat value and a pleasant experience (fragrance, long-lasting burn, etc.). One cord of each type of wood here produces heat equivalent to burning 200-250 gallons of fuel oil.

• Apple: deliciously fragrant aroma, slow-burning
• Beech: burns at very high heat, great for colder climates
• Cherry: hardwood with pleasant fragrance and long-lasting burn
• Oak: hearty and heavy weight, low level of smoke
• Sycamore: dense wood for long-lasting fire

The Worst Firewood to Burn

As a general rule, wood from coniferous trees isn’t very good for burning in your fireplace because it lacks the density of hardwood. It burns faster and doesn’t put off as much heat, so you need to use more wood to heat your home. The woods below produce more smoke that ends up as creosote deposits in your chimney, and tend to spark much more than hardwood, making for a less than relaxing fireside experience.

• Birch: bark produces lots of soot and smoke
• Cedar: filled with volatile oils that create popping and sparks
• Balsam Fir: lots of smoke with sparks
• Spruce: lightweight and fast-burning
• Pine: a resinous softwood that creates lots of creosote

Other Poor Choices

It’s definitely a bad idea to burn any type of treated lumber, as the chemicals used in the manufacturing process can be released in the smoke and inhaled. You should also only use locally sourced firewood to avoid the problem of invasive insects like the Emerald Ash Borer and the Asian Long-Horned Beetle, which can cause massive damage to native forests.

Find Your Local NPI Inspector for a Safe Fireplace

National Property Inspections wants your winter season to be warm, bright and safe! Give your local NPI inspector a call today to help keep your home’s wood-burning systems in top condition.

Preparing for a Storm Checklist: Winter Edition

While nerve-wracking, a winter storm is nothing to be afraid of, especially if you’re prepared. Follow this preparing for a storm checklist to ensure you’re ready for anything when the snow starts falling and the wind picks up.

Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Keeping everyone in your household in the know is the best start to winter storm prep. Sit down with the entire family and discuss what to do in the event of inclement weather. You should also show everyone where emergency items are located and assign small children a “buddy” to stick with. You should also make a plan for communicating with family members if you happen to be away from home when a storm hits. Making sure everyone feels prepared will keep panic at a minimum.

Winterize your car.

You may need to move locations during a winter storm, or you may be in transit when it hits. This is why it’s important to make sure that your car is up to the job. At the start of the season, visit your mechanic and have them top off all fluids and inspect areas like the battery and windshield wipers for wear and tear. It’s also crucial that your tire treads are capable of handling snow and ice. In some areas, chains or snow tires may be appropriate.

You’ll also want to stock your car with a few supplies:

• A windshield scraper
• A small bag of sand or non-clumping kitty litter
• Emergency blankets and warm clothing
• Flashlights
• A red cloth to tie to the antenna

You should also keep a mostly full tank of gas at all times.

Gather household supplies.

When gathering supplies, be sure to stock up well in advance. Stores can run out of items like bottled water quickly in the event of an impending storm. Here are some basics to have on hand:

• Flashlights for each member of the family
• Plenty of batteries in a variety of sizes
• A three-day supply of nonperishable food and bottled water for each family member
• Battery-powered radio
• Cell phone charger that operates on batteries, solar power or some other non-electric source
• Wipes, hand sanitizer and paper products
• Extra blankets and warm clothing
• Firewood and matches (if you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove)
• Rock salt, ice-melt or similar

Protect your home.

Some of the most expensive damage to your home occurs during instances of extreme cold. One of the most important things you can do for your home when the power goes out is to keep your pipes warm. This helps prevent burst pipes and extensive repairs. At the start of winter storm season, take the time to wrap pipes in insulation. You can also open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate and turn on all faucets so that they drip and water can keep flowing.

A healthy roof is crucial year-round, but it becomes especially important in the winter. In the fall, we recommend hiring an NPI inspector to help identify any weak areas and suggest repairs. They can also inspect your attic’s structure and insulation to make sure that warm air won’t escape and create ice dams.

You also might consider purchasing a generator to help with long-term storm prep. A generator can keep your heat and power running, and it can even be programmed to kick on as soon as a power outage occurs. Available in a wide variety of sizes and prices, generators are recognized as a smart investment that can sometimes earn you a break on home insurance costs.

Make room for pets.

If you have pets, you’ll want to keep extra supplies on hand. Make sure they have plenty of food, water and blankets. You should also have puppy pads, cat litter and cleaning supplies on hand for any bathroom accidents if your pets are used to being let outside frequently.

Hiring a National Property Inspections inspector can help you prepare your home for a winter storm. Look for an inspector in your area today to protect your biggest investment—your home.

5 Ways to Know if You Need a Gutter Replacement

1. You can see visible damage.

The quickest way to know if you need a gutter replacement is to examine your gutters up close. If your gutters are damaged, you may be able to see visible cracks, rust and holes, especially along the bottom. If the wear and tear is minor, you should be able to make repairs yourself with a little sealant. But before you make a decision about how to proceed with a potential DIY project, it’s important to look for the following signs. If you see any of these, chances are you’ll need a full-blown gutter replacement.

2. There’s water damage on your home’s siding.

The state of your home’s siding can give you great insight into many other aspects of the house’s condition, including its gutters. Another sign you may have a gutter replacement on your horizon is the presence of discolored water marks right below the gutters on your home’s siding. Water marks can indicate that gutters are leaking or overflowing. If your home is made of brick or another material, you’ll need to take a look at the fascia and soffit for water damage.

3. Your gutters pull away from the house.

Sagging gutters that pull away from the house indicate major drainage problems. If gutters get weighed down with water, they can sometimes drop or fall off the home altogether. Sometimes, sagging gutters are unavoidable due to heavy rainfall or freezing snow, but often, they can be prevented by cleaning out the dirt and debris that might be blocking water flow. Just be careful not to cause additional damage to gutters when leaning your body weight or a ladder against your home.

4. Your basement is flooding.

They say that if your basement is flooding, you should start at the top of your home and work your way down to diagnose the issue. This is where gutters come into play. You might experience basement flooding from time to time when your gutters can’t carry water away from your home fast enough. If water isn’t carried away, it can end up right below your eaves as it slides off your roof, seeping into your basement and causing water damage that ranges from wet patches on the ground to inches of standing water. Sometimes, basement flooding is unavoidable, especially in areas of heavy rainfall where gutters overflow often. Often, though, it means your gutters are significantly damaged.

5. You can spot mildew on your foundation.

If your home is experiencing foundation issues, the gutters may be your last area of concern. But they can actually play a big role in the health of your home’s structure. This is because the primary job of gutters is to carry water away from the home. If you can see water pooling around the foundation and signs of mildew, you could be dealing with a major gutter issue. Sometimes, simply cleaning your gutters will help get rid of any plugs, but you could also need a replacement.

If you need help determining the condition of all aspects of your home, NPI can help. Whether you’re buying, selling or just looking for a three to five year checkup, you can find a highly trained and qualified inspector near you.

How to Remove Salt Stains the Easy Way

Winter brings more into your home than just snow and ice. In addition to slushy footprints, there’s a good chance that you and your family are tracking in salt, sand and ice melt. Avoiding these substances in parking lots and walkways is almost impossible, so what’s a person to do? You might start by thinking of the clean-up process as a little science experiment.

The salt that we scatter on sidewalks in winter is actually made up of calcium chloride pellets. Calcium chloride is an inexpensive substance known for its effective melting properties, with certain solutions having the ability to prevent freezing at as low as – 62 degrees Fahrenheit. It also happens to have a high pH, one greater than 7.

Because calcium chloride is so acidic, it tends to attract water, which means it loves our snowy boots. You may think you’re in the clear once wet footprints have either evaporated or been wiped away, but unsightly white streaks will likely appear in time. And if salt isn’t properly cleaned, it can slowly destroy a floor’s finish or permanently stain carpet.

How to Remove Salt Stains with Vinegar

Your first thought may be to grab a bucket of hot soapy water or scrub hard at the stubborn stains with a brush. But the best way to remove stains is to neutralize the highly acidic calcium chloride with a low-pH cleanser. You can choose a floor neutralizer for this specific purpose, but our favorite solution is one we’ve already discussed at length in a previous entry—vinegar. With its pH of 3, vinegar won’t just remove tough, baked-on stains from your oven. When used the right way, it’s your best bet for keeping floors clean.

Since vinegar itself is fairly acidic, it’s best not to apply it directly to just any surface. Stone, for example, can be eroded by acidic substances and is not ideal for cleaning with vinegar. The key to using vinegar to remove salt stains is to dilute it. To avoid wear and tear on your flooring, try mixing four to five ounces of vinegar with about a gallon of warm water. Use a generous amount of vinegar solution to mop floors or gently scrub carpets. Allow it to rest for three to five minutes, then use clear warm water to mop stains again.

While vinegar is perfect for vinyl or tile flooring, you’ll need to modify the process if you have a hardwood floor. It’s best not to use a mop since excess or standing water can cause damage to wood. Spot-treat hardwood floor stains with a rag soaked in the solution, then use another clean, dry rag to wipe up the stains and any vinegar residue.

You can also use vinegar to clean salt stains off of concrete. Since calcium chloride tends to bond more strongly to concrete than interior flooring materials, you’ll need to create a stronger cleaning solution. Mix one part vinegar with five parts water, put down a generous amount of cleaner, wait three to five minutes and then mop it up with clear water.

More Winter Foot Traffic Tips

A certain amount of moisture and staining is probably unavoidable when it comes to your home and winter foot traffic. You may need to lay down a strict no-shoes-in-the-house rule and put out additional absorbent mats to catch any water and salt. It’s a good idea to place one for wiping outside the door and then one or two more to cover your foyer. You can also try leaning shoes toes-up on the lip of a boot tray so that excess moisture drains off.

Do you have a question about removing stubborn salt stains from your home’s floors? Let us know in the comments below, or contact your local National Property Inspections team.

Christmas Critters: How to Get Rid of Raccoons in Your Attic

As the weather gets colder, you might find yourself with an unwanted houseguest this holiday season. Critters of all stripes look for warm places to burrow in for the winter, and they won’t think twice about making a home in your attic, crawlspace or basement if the conditions are right. Whether you’re dealing with a raccoon, groundhog or even a skunk, we’ll tell you the signs to look for and how to get rid of them so they won’t come back.

Signs of An Animal in Your House

We’ve found a raccoon that had been hiding in a customer’s garage for four days before anyone noticed. It had entered the home through a small opening in the exterior wall and gotten stuck in a rarely opened utility closet. The customer only found out about his visitor because of the faint, musky urine smell and a nice nest of drywall shreds spilling out from under the door.

Why are we telling you this? Simply put, animals can be sneaky. Even if you think there’s no way you wouldn’t notice a wild animal in your house, the fact is that you don’t look for things you’re not expecting. Here are the signs to clue you in:

• Unexplained scratching sounds in the walls
• Lights flickering and electrical systems failing
• Signs of intrusion like holes or shredded drywall
• Visible signs or smell of urine or droppings

In our customer’s case, the solution was simple enough—open the garage door about a foot, open the closet and let the critter waltz out. If only it were this easy all the time. If you think you might have a raccoon or other wild animal in a place that’s hard to access, like your attic or walls, we recommend calling in an animal control specialist to remove it.

Securing Your Home with an NPI Inspector

Raccoons and other animals are generally drawn to your home in search of food, so you should remove their reason for hanging around. Keep your garbage cans secure with locking lids, and if you have other pets, don’t feed them outside. Once you know the animal is gone, it’s time to figure out how it got in. This is harder than it sounds. For example, a raccoon can gain entry to your home through a hole as small as three inches, and these openings are easy to overlook in hard-to-reach areas like a crawlspace.

Rather than spending your holiday season combing your home for entry points, let National Property Inspections take care of it while you knock back some egg nog and trim the tree. Your NPI inspector knows exactly what to look for and will identify the areas you need to repair, like open soffits, vent holes and more. Find your local inspector now to get rid of raccoons and keep them out of your home for good.

Why Does My House Smell?

Sometimes, previous owners can leave things behind. And sometimes, those things aren’t tangible items, like plates and furniture. They’re smells. Before you walk away from your dream home, use these tips to pinpoint the source of any odors and be on your way to breathing easy.

Kitchen Leftovers

You might be surprised to know that eliminating many odors is as easy as cleaning out the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator. Before your search gets underway, head to the kitchen armed with trash bags and go through the fridge and all storage areas. It’s easy to miss items in dark corners, and busy tenants or owners may have simply forgotten food during the move-out process. Once you’ve determined that the kitchen is clear, you can check other key areas.

Cigarette Smoke

Cigarette smoke is one of the most invasive, unmistakable odors, and one of the most difficult to remove. The smell from a cigarette can remain airborne months after it’s been lit, and inhaling leftover cigarette odor actually has a name–third-hand smoke. While daunting, removing cigarette odor can be done, and it’s almost always worth it.

The best way to approach stale cigarette smoke odor is to treat the entire house top to bottom, beginning by steam cleaning any carpets to remove residual smoke particles. Walls and upholstery can be chemically treated to neutralize the odors that are associated with smoke, and painting the walls can lock in stains and any remaining smell. Opening windows and doors will also help to purify the air, and there are air filtration machines available which cleanse and purge the home of toxic fumes.

Moisture and Mold

If your home smells “musty,” you probably have a larger project on your horizon. The leading cause of mold, moisture and mildew is water leaks in the roof, walls, plumbing or basement. Air conditioning units and drain lines can also be a culprit. Any of these issues will likely warrant a professional repair.

Insulation issues can also cause excess moisture. If flashings around windows are not properly sealed, condensation can collect and begin to mildew. You should also check freezer and refrigerator doors for sealing issues.

General Deodorizing

If you have decided that your home with olfactory character is right for you, there are simple steps you can take to deodorize a musty house. Zeolite, a natural mineral, absorbs odor without any perfumes or masking agents. It’s completely safe, non-toxic, and lasts up to six months. After that, it is easily rechargeable by heating in direct sunlight or a 250-degree oven for thirty minutes.

Activated charcoal is another powerful detoxifier that is used as an ingredient in many commercial odor removers. It is incredibly reasonable and lasts far longer than traditional air fresheners. Cleaning a musty home with vinegar is not only environmentally friendly, it also helps eliminate the odor from an old house. Baking soda is another miracle ingredient, that when sprinkled in an affected area, soaks up and removes residual odors. Not only does this work in refrigerators, but in any area of the home such as carpets, floors, and even clothing. Sprinkle it on the carpet at night, then simply vacuum in the morning for a fresh, clean scent.

If you’re having trouble pinpointing the source of a smell, call a National Property Inspections team near you. They can inspect your home from top to bottom and identify leaks, roof weaknesses, faulty appliances and more.

Don’t Pull a Griswold: How to Fix Christmas Tree Lights

One of the splendors of the holidays is all the festive décor, both inside and outside your home. Twinkling Christmas lights are what signal Santa’s sleigh, after all, so don’t get caught this season with lights that don’t work. Learn how to fix your Christmas tree lights easily so you can save money while still putting on a spectacular display. This way, you won’t get caught like Clark Griswold on Christmas Eve with blown fuses and a palooza of holiday frustration.

Christmas Lights Don’t Work? Check the Fuses

The first way to fix Christmas lights that don’t work is to identify whether half or all the strand is out. If it’s the latter, try replacing the fuse. A blown fuse can turn an entire strand dark, and often happens when multiple strands are connected from end to end. To change the fuse on a string of Christmas lights, first locate the plug (and make sure it’s unplugged from the wall, while you’re at it). On the male plug of every light string, you’ll see a sliding door that conceals the fuses. Open this and check the fuses—working fuses will be clear, while burnt out fuses will be dark in color. Replace the broken ones and you’re set.

Another lesson to learn from Mr. Griswold: do NOT use a stapler to put up your exterior lights, as this can cause the wires to blow the fuse.

Find Problem Bulbs with New Technology

With such new and innovative technology on the market, identifying a problem bulb is easier than it has ever been. A Christmas light repair tool costs about $20, and comes with everything you need to identify and replace a bad bulb: a continuity detector, shunt repairer, and light bulb removal tool.

The spark function on the repair tool can test each individual bulb, zapping and repairing the gap in current. If that doesn’t work, you can follow these steps to quickly trace the location of the dead bulb on the strand.

1. Pull apart the braided wires of the strand to identify the one directly connected to your bulbs.
2. Place the instrument about halfway through the strand, between two bulbs. If the tool hums or lights, the problem is in the half of the strand farthest from the plug.
3. If it doesn’t light up or hum, the problem is on the opposite side.
4. Once you have identified the problem side, you can replace the bulbs that have simply burnt out.

Remember, leaving a dead bulb on your Christmas lights can shorten the life of those around it.

Call Your Local NPI Inspector Today

With these simple instructions, you can easily learn how to fix your Christmas tree lights instead of buying new ones. If you have any questions, call your local branch of National Property Inspections. Their inspectors will give you advice and point you in the right direction so you don’t end up like Aunt Bethany’s cat this holiday.

The Best Electrical Outlet Type for Your Needs

Varying in category, voltage, and function, different electrical outlet types are each designed for a specific purpose. Different countries may have varying national standards, but the central goal is always the same: connecting you to your devices swiftly and easily.

Surge Protection Outlets for Clean Electricity

For reliable power you need to start with clean electricity, but what does that mean? Clean electricity is free of “noise,” (aka interference) that can be caused by nearby power lines or electrical substations. A noisy electrical supply is prone to surges, which is why one of the best ways to protect your home’s expensive electrical equipment is with a surge protector. Surge protection is also necessary in professional settings such as emergency power supplies or life-support systems for hospitals. If you don’t like the look of a surge protection power strip, you can buy in-wall surge protection outlets, too.

Polarized and Grounded Outlets Prevent User Error

Certain outlet types are designed only for specific connectors to improve safety. Polarized plugs and outlets are now the standard for all common household appliances. With polarized plugs, you’ll notice that one blade is slightly larger than the other. This ensures that you can only plug your appliance in one way, the right way, aligned with your home’s wiring system. Grounded plugs, usually found on larger appliances like ovens, refrigerators and televisions, have three prongs.

Use GFCI Outlets In Case of Water

Ever wonder why some outlets have reset buttons on them? This is a special type of receptacle called a GFCI, or ground-fault circuit interrupter. Required in kitchens, bathrooms, and other exposed or damp areas, that tiny “reset” button can protect from serious shock when the right amount of electricity and water meet. Acting like an ultra-sensitive circuit breaker, this face detects the amount of incoming and outgoing current, and if they are not even, shuts itself down. Therefore, if you are having trouble with one or more outlets in the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry area, simply locate the GFCI switch and try a reset, which will restart any circuits it has been connected to. If you are having trouble locating the GFCI switch, National Property Inspections is always here to lend a helping hand.

Childproof Outlets Protect Your Little Ones

If you have a young family, child proof outlets are now more accessible than ever. While they appear identical to standard outlets, they are anything but. A spring-loaded cover plate protects the outlet holes, which prevents the insertion of household objects when unequal pressure is applied to the receptacle’s contact points. So essentially, unless you are an adult trying to plug something in, the outlet won’t budge. With nearly 2,400 children (that’s seven per day!) in emergency rooms due to electrical shocks per year, this is a fantastic way to keep your little ones out of harm’s way.

If you are having trouble locating the GFI switch or are wondering if it is time for an upgrade, National Property Inspections is here to help. Give us a call today at 1-800-333-9807.