Fitzgerald and Associates Real Estate

Posted by Fitzgerald and Associates Real Estate on 2/16/2018

You know there are certain household items that need to be replaced regularly. But just how regularly is where things might start to get fuzzy. Especially those big tickets items that need to be replaced on a yearly span rather than months or days. Keep reading to discover how often you need to replace items around the home. Pillows. You want to replace the pillows in your home every couple of years. You’ve probably heard by now that up to a third of a regularly used pillow’s weight can be attributed to dust and dead skin cells. You may not, however, made the connection that a dust filled pillow equals dust mites. While dust mites do not carry communicable diseases, they do pose as an allergy and/or asthma irritant. HVAC filters. During the summer and winter months when your system is working longer hours to maintain your home’s temperatures you will want to change your filters each month. Meanwhile, in the spring and fall, you can do so less frequently, changing it around the three-month mark. Changing your filter regularly will keep your system running efficiently and save you money on energy costs in the long run. Fire extinguisher. You have a fire extinguisher in your home, right? If you don’t I suggest you run out and get one right away. Fire extinguishers can be replaced every ten years, however, they do need to be tested monthly and inspected regularly. Toilet brush. This is one not many homeowners think of, if ever. However, it advisable to replace your toilet brush every six months with regular cleanings in between. As you can image, toilet brushes are host to all kinds of germs and bacteria you don’t want to hang around your home. Toothbrushes. If your family stays on top of their recommended regular teeth cleanings every three months this point shouldn’t be an issue. However, it is one worth mentioning. Your family’s toothbrushes should be replaced every three months as they can develop bacteria that lead to gingivitis and/or tooth decay. And isn’t that what we’re trying to avoid when we brush our teeth? Smoke detectors. It is best practice to proactively replace the batteries in your smoke detector twice a year. With that said it is a good idea to also replace the smoke detector itself every ten years to ensure you have an up to date model. Throughout those ten years, however, you should be regularly testing your alarms. If you have recently moved to a new home and are unsure of how old your smoke alarm system is it is a good idea to plan on replacing them in the near future. Hopefully, you already regularly maintain these items. However, if you can’t remember the last time you have replaced any of the items mentioned you should consider making a plan to invest in some replacements. Making a spreadsheet in your home binder or setting up alerts on your virtual calendar will help you stay on top of the regular maintenance your household items require.

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Posted by Fitzgerald and Associates Real Estate on 11/17/2017

It's many homeowners' worst fear to come home to a water disaster in their home. Water damage can cost thousands to repair and will include a lengthy process in order to adhere to safety standards, potentially disrupting your home life for weeks. In this article we'll give you tips on how to avoid water damage and what to do when you discover it.

Water damage vs. flood damage

Many people are unaware of the difference between water damage and flood damage. Water damage can occur when you have plumbing issues such as a leaking pipe or overflowing bath tub. Flood damage, on the other hand, is defined by FEMA as an "overflow of inland or tidal waters, unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters," or even mudflow. Flood damage tends to be the more costly and the more dangerous of the two, as it puts home inhabitants at serious health risk. Part of the stipulation in differing between the two types of damage is insurance coverage; water damage is often covered by homeowner's insurance whereas flood damage is not.

Avoiding water damage

To avoid costly and time-consuming repairs, follow these steps to prevent water damage from occurring in your home:
  • Keep your gutters clean to avoid backups and drainage issues
  • divert rain water away from your house with downspouts
  • Disconnect hoses and turn off their water supply when temperatures drop to freezing overnight
  • Don't leave water using appliances running while you are away from home for extended periods of time
  • Keep up with maintenance on your dishwasher, washing machine, toilets, and tubs
  • Turn off your water main when you go away on vacations
  • Check the water pressure to your home. High water pressure can be nice in the shower, but pressures too high can cause your plumbing to fail
  • Check regularly for leaks. Some water damage may go unnoticed for weeks or months, which subjects you to another danger: mold

What to do if you have water damage in your home

If it's too late for prevention and you've discovered water damage in your home there are several steps you'll need to take to ensure the safety of your home.
  • Turn off electronics in the affected area. If possible switch off power to whole the whole section of your home at the circuit breaker. This first step is to ensure your own safety. Once you've turned off power to all potentially dangerous electronics, you can move on to the next step.
  • Remove electronics and other perishable items from the area. If you remove the items soon enough you might be able to salvage them by drying them out.
  • Soak up the bulk of the water. You can do this the old fashion way by using towels and buckets. Or you can use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to suck up the water from rugs, carpets, and other surfaces.
  • Dry the area completely. To avoid mold, use fans and a dehumidifier to fully dry out the area.
  • Disinfect. Spray the area to remove any bacteria that may have accumulated due to moisture.
  • Contact the professionals. A contractor will be able to tell you the full extent of the damage and whether any serious repairs will need to me made.

Posted by Fitzgerald and Associates Real Estate on 11/10/2017

We've all heard of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. It has been ominously dubbed "the silent killer" because of its colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-irritating properties. As children, we learn a great deal about fire safety, having drills at school and lessons at home from our parents. But many of us are in the dark when it comes to the causes of carbon monoxide poisoning and the best preventative measures to take. Read on to learn what you need to know about the silent killer to protect yourself and your family.

What produces carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is produced by burning fuels. Common items that emit CO gas, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, include:
  • motor vehicles
  • small engines
  • stoves
  • lanterns
  • grills
  • fireplaces
  • gas ranges
  • furnaces
We all have these items, and aside from common knowledge like not letting your car run in a closed garage, most of us don't know how to minimize risk.

Why is CO so dangerous?

Carbon monoxide, when inhaled, replaces the oxygen in our blood. If too much CO builds up in a closed room it can cause serious health problems or even death. Common symptoms from CO poisoning include:
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • confusion
  • drowsiness
  • fast breathing or heart rate
If you experience any of these symptoms indoors you should immediately leave the house. If you suspect it could be carbon monoxide exposure call 911.

Who is at Risk?

Everyone can be exposed to carbon monoxide, but some are at greater risk than others. According to Mayo Clinic, the most at-risk people for CO poisoning include:
  • Unborn babies - fetal blood cells absorb CO faster than regular blood cells, therefore unborn babies experience oxygen deprivation much more rapidly
  • Children - kids take breaths more frequently than adults, making them more susceptible to CO poisoning
  • Older adults - older people are more likely to experience brain damage from CO exposure

What preventative steps can you take?

The home is full of potential dangers when it comes to CO poisoning. Here are some of the most important steps you can take to reduce risk:
  • Buy and maintain CO detectors for your home
  • Never use your oven to heat your home
  • Never leave a vehicle or small engine running in an enclosed space such as a shed or garage
  • Do not use a charcoal grill inside
  • Do not use a gas lantern inside a tent for prolonged periods of time
  • Don't run a generator in your home or basement
  • Have your chimney checked for blockages
  • Check the ventilation on your gas appliances
  • Fire safety is also carbon monoxide safety - breathing in smoke fumes from a house fire can cause CO poisoning and death

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Posted by Fitzgerald and Associates Real Estate on 4/1/2016

Protecting your home from burglars may seem like a no-brainer to some. Unfortunately for many homeowners, it takes an actual break-in for them to turn their attention to securing their homes against intruders. Here are a few preemptive steps that you can take in order to put your mind at ease. 1. Install a security system. Many modern homes come equipped with some form of security alarm. However, if you find yourself purchasing a home that doesn't already have a security system in place, you should consider your options for outfitting your home with one. There are many different types of security systems to choose from, and picking the most expensive plan doesn't always mean you are getting the most protection for your dollar. If you live in a rural area, for instance, focusing on a deterrent-based form of home security might better suit you than one that places police response as their most-prized feature. If it will take 15 minutes or more for a police officer to respond to your property, then you may need to consider a plan that places emphasis on loud alarms, or even a form of motion-sensor lighting to deter a break in. has compiled an up-to-date list of some of the most comprehensive security plans on the market today. 2. Keep your doors and windows locked. Many break-ins don't actually require anything being "broken" in order for an intruder to gain access to your home. Keeping your windows and doors locked may seem like an obvious step, but you'd be surprised at the number of burglaries and home invasions that occur from homeowners ignoring this very practical safety measure. Also, if your home doesn't already come equipped with them, consider purchasing deadbolts for all of the exit doors in your home. Additionally, consider installing a peephole in your door if you don't already have one. Sometimes, all it takes is opening your door in response to a knock that can set off a home invasion. Never open your door to a stranger unless you are comfortable and secure in doing so. Don't feel foolish asking for credentials when opening your door to someone claiming to work for the water or gas company, either. Many times, a burglar can shut off certain things in your home from the outside to pave the way for knocking at your door, claiming to be there to help restore your services. 3. Alert a trusted neighbor when you go on vacation. Having a trusted neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers will give your home the appearance of being occupied, and will take the attention away from the wandering eyes of a potential burglar. Also, if the neighbor sees suspicious activity, it will give you an extra line of defense in the event that your security system and safety measures happen to fail. 4. Leave an electronic appliance on that is visible through a window. Many burglars prefer to do their work in your home while you are away. Leaving a television on in a room, or a light on in a window visible from the outside will give them the impression that your house is currently occupied. Many former burglars have stated that they avoid break-ins where there is an obvious risk of coming into contact with the homeowner. 5. Keep track of your spare keys. Putting a spare key to your home under the mat isn't the smartest option, and is in fact one of the first places many burglars check in order to ensure they can get into your house quickly and quietly. Consider hiding your spare key under a rock, away from the front door. This will ensure a tougher hunt for the potential burglar. 6. Landscaping. Many people haven't considered landscaping being an enabler of home invasions, but many landscaping options we use for our privacy concerns can actually end up HELPING a potential burglar gain access to your home. Privacy bushes and fences outside your first-floor bathroom window might seem like a good idea at first, until you consider that you are also giving a potential burglar an easily concealed place to work on entry into your home. Consider more sensible options, like window tinting or decorative cling wraps instead. If you must have a privacy hedge, consider one that loses it's concealment capabilities when viewed from the front yard. This will ensure that your neighbor cannot see you get out of the shower, but would severely limit the amount of concealment a burglar could take advantage of. For more information on how to secure your home, as well as tips for protecting yourself against home invasions, please visit the following links.