Fireworks on the Fourth of July are an American tradition. It started with the Independence Day celebration in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777. Revelers marked the first anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence with bonfires, bells, and fireworks.
Today, they still play a major part in the way we commemorate Independence Day across the nation. Although the coronavirus pandemic has canceled many community activities, including parades, festivals, and public presentations, most Americans will still celebrate in some way with family. For many that will include barbecues and home fireworks displays.
With all that celebrating, it’s important to keep yourself and your family safe. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 9,000 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in 2018, with most of those injuries occurring around the fourth of July. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports they started more than 19,000 fires that year, including 1,900 structure fires and 500 vehicle fires. NFPA says these fires caused five deaths and $105 million in direct property damage. So, fireworks safety should be taken seriously.
If consumer fireworks are legal to buy where you live and you choose to use them, the National Safety Council (NSC) offers the following safety tips:
Never allow young children to handle them*
Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
Never use them while impaired by drugs or alcohol
Anyone using them or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
Never light them indoors
Only use them away from people, houses, and flammable material
Never point or throw them at another person
Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
Never ignite devices in a container
Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
Never use illegal firework
* Note: Sparklers are popular and are not classified as fireworks in some states (including Illinois). Because they burn at 1,200-2,000 degrees, they aren’t a good choice for young children. According to the CPSC, sparklers alone account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries, and they account for nearly half of all fireworks injuries for children under the age of five.
Safer alternatives for young kids include glow sticks, confetti poppers, silly string, snap pops, glow-in-the-dark lawn toys, and glow-in-the-dark bubbles.
Learn to make your own glow-in-the-dark bubbles
Alternatives to Fireworks
For those who live in areas where fireworks are illegal or impractical, or who just don’t want to take the risks, NFPA offers a shareable pdf with some suggestions for Fourth of July celebrations that don’t include fireworks. You’ll find a few back yard family fun ideas on our website too.
Whatever way you and your family choose to celebrate Independence Day this year, we encourage you to take a minute or two to reflect on why we celebrate and on the impact of the words that declared the birth of our nation on July 4th, 1776:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”
Does it seem like Termite Inspections, also called wood destroying insect inspections (WDI), are yielding more recommendations for treatment these days? You are probably right. It’s not that there are more termite infestations. It’s more likely the result of the 2020 rules changes. What changes? Read on.
On January 1, 2020, a new standard for the termite inspection and wood destroying insect inspections took effect and the changes are significant. In July 2019, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) released an updated and revised NPMA-33 Wood Destroying Insect Inspection Form. That’s the standardized form that all pest inspectors use for real estate WDI inspections. According to NPMA, all previous editions are now obsolete. That means for real estate transactions, only the current form bearing a revision date of 7/1/2019 should be accepted.
There are a few revisions you need to know about. There are changes in language such as the replacement of the word “defects” with “wood destroying insect damage.” More significantly, the section on page one of the report noting evidence of previous treatment has been eliminated and the page two guidelines regarding when to recommend treatment for termites has changed.
Pest inspectors have always recommended treatment whenever live termites are observed. The new standard says “if no evidence of a previous treatment is documented and evidence of an infestation is found, even if no live termites are observed, treatment or corrective action by a licensed pest control company should be recommended.” The new guidelines call for documentation of treatment, not just evidence like drill holes.
In the past, if a termite inspector found shelter tubes or other evidence of infestation without observing live termites and also found evidence of prior treatment, they generally didn’t recommend treatment in their report. Under the new standards, unless there is documentation of prior treatment, termite inspectors are recommending the property be treated.
evidence of termite activity
Home sellers who have had their homes treated for termites in the past are advised to have the documentation of treatment at the ready. Be advised that the new guidelines also give the pest inspector latitude to recommend treatment if documentation is too old or in some other way inadequate.
Heavy rain and flooding can negatively impact a home’s termite protection system. The NPMA has published a technical update explaining what you need to know. Get it here
click here for a copy of the NMPA TECHNICAL UPDATE:
Roof Coverings: Balancing Aesthetics with Performance
How is your roof? According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), during storms, your roof does a lot to protect your home. Besides keeping you and your family safe from rain, lightning, sleet, hail, and windblown debris, it keeps the inside of your home dry and can even act as a structural diaphragm in certain situations, keeping your home from falling down around you. In order to protect the home, your roof must resist both high and low temperature extremes, rain, high winds, exposure to ultraviolet radiation, snow, ice formation, and hail.
Of all the hazards your roof faces, wind is the most problematic according to FEMA. Living in the Midwest, you already know extreme weather with high winds or tornadoes can devastate a home. Even an average Midwestern thunderstorm can wreak havoc on a home’s roof. When wind force is greater than the roof system can handle, it can be disastrous. Wind can tear roof coverings from roof decks. It can separate roof decks from framing. And roof punctures from windblown debris can seriously impact the roof’s integrity.
Repeated exposure to wind events can wear down a roof’s first line of defense, the roof covering. Choosing the right roof covering for your home can make a big difference in how it weathers the storm. Homeowners have a lot to consider when balancing style and budget with performance.
Three Popular Options for Flat Roofs
Built Up Roofing (BUR): Hot-mopped built-up roofing (BUR) is one of the oldest types of roof coverings for flat roofs. They’re installed using several layers of roofing felt impregnated with asphalt and hot mopped with a low-grade crude oil called bitumen.
Hot-applied coal tar pitch blends with the bitumen-soaked felt creating a fused roof membrane generally two to four layers thick. Finely crushed stone granules may be applied to the top layer of tar to give the roof additional protection from the elements. A BUR roof is relatively in expensive. If well maintained, it can last 20 to 30 years.
Torch Down Roofing: Sometimes called “torch on” roofing, it requires an open-flame propane torch for installation. Torch down roofing is the most common type of roofing used on flat or very slightly pitched roofs. It’s a two- or three-layer roofing product consisting of a tough membrane of bitumen modified with rubber or plastic and embedded in a thick layer of asphalt. Torch down roofing can tolerate changing temperatures well and expands and contracts without melting or cracking. It’s usually a little more expensive than BUR roofing, but it also tends to be more resistant to punctures and UV rays.
Membrane Roofing (Rubber Roofing): Single layer membrane roofing is the most popular for commercial buildings, but it’s being used in residential roofing too. EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber roofing is perhaps the most synthetic rubber is the most common single-ply membrane roof material in both residential and commercial use. It’s also one of the more durable option for homes with flat roofs. Installed as thin sheets and being made of rubber or polymer, they’re flexible, elastic, and can handle temperature changes better than built up roofs (BURs). It also costs a little more with a similar lifespan.
Several Popular Options for Pitched Roofs
Asphalt Shingles: Widely considered the best choice for most homes. They are relatively light, inexpensive, and easy to install. Sheets of roofing are layered to give the illusion of more expensive single shingles, like cedar or slate, that are installed one shingle at a time. This means the asphalt shingles take less time to install. An asphalt shingle roof typically has a lifespan of 12 to 30 years.
Metal Roofing: Metal roof covers are an Eco-friendly choice that’s highly recyclable and energy efficient. It’s also wind and fire resistant. The most common type of metal roof is the standing seam roof. It’s made up of aluminum or steel roofing panels with interlocking raised seams. Installation is generally faster than most other roof covering types. For those who want the longevity and fire resistance of metal, but don’t like the look of standing seam roofs, metal shingles fill the bill. These steel or aluminum shingles or shakes can mimic asphalt, wood, or slate shingles, or even clay tiles. Metal roofs can last 30-50 years or more, but typically cost four to five times as much as asphalt shingles.
Clay Tile: This is a traditional choice that offers an exceptional aesthetic appeal. They can be left as unglazed red clay tiles or glazed and fired to become ceramic roofing tiles. Clay tiles have been used to cover roofs for centuries. They’re particularly good at resisting salt and heat damage, making them a popular choice in desert and coastal areas. They are a rather expensive choice, costing as much as $30 per square foot. But since a properly maintained clay tile roof can last more than a century, they are a one-and-done solution.
Concrete Tile: If you love clay tile but just can’t bring yourself to pay the price, concrete tile presents a similar looking, but less expensive option. Unlike clay, concrete tiles can be dyed to taste. Because it is molded, concrete tiles can be shaped to mimic rolled clay tiles or low-profile roofing like wood shakes. Concrete tile is a very heavy roofing material, making it a good choice in high-wind regions. It’s also fire resistant, last up to 50 years and is little as half the price of clay tiles.
Wood Shake and shingles: Wood shingles are precision sawed, thin slabs used to cover the roof. Wood shakes are hand-cut, making them thicker and more durable than machine-made wood shingles. Wood is a good insulator, and hand-cut shake shingles can last up to 40 years in a relatively dry climate with proper maintenance. But wood is not very fire resistant and moisture can shorten the lifespan of a wood roof considerably. They are one of the more expensive options, but also considered one of the most attractive roof covers on the market today.
Slate: Very popular for historic buildings, slate roofing is very long-lasting and durable. Slate shingles are thin sheets of real stone. This traditional choice combines beauty with enhanced protection, making it one of the most desired roof coverings available. It’s pricier than most other options, costing double or triple the price of even clay tiles. A slate roof represents a compromise between cost and near-permanence since slate roofs have been known to last centuries.
Synthetic Slate: Love the look of slate shingles, but not the price? Enter synthetic slate shingles, also called rubber slate. These engineered shingles look surprisingly similar to natural slate from the ground. Made from engineered polymers and recycled plastic and rubber, synthetic slate is a lightweight alternative that makes it an option for houses that can’t support natural slate’s the heavy weight. The rubber slate shingles are not as durable as slate but can last 50 years or more. They’re also priced closer to the cost of wood shake or metal shingles, making them much more affordable than real stone.
With all the roof covering choices available to homeowners, there really is something just right for everyone. Just as each type brings a unique style and benefit to the task, it also brings its own shortcomings and wear issues.
A Certified Roof Inspector is well versed in the positives and negatives of each roof covering type. They have the specialized training to properly gage the condition of the roof covering, spot installation issues, weather damage, and wear issues that could compromise your roof’s integrity. Since the roof covering is your roof’s first line of defense against the elements, it’s important that your home inspector has the expertise needed to properly inspect the roof. Protect your investment. Insist on a certified roof inspector.
For more useful home maintenance tips and information visit us at:
As we begin to reopen our communities while still dealing with Covid-19 in our communities, we are again reviewing and revising our policies and procedures. We want to keep you up to date on changes in our practices aimed at protecting our clients, employees, realtors, sellers, and others involved in the home inspection process.
One significant change in our policy: we are again allowing buyers to attend inspections in vacant homes. (We are still asking buyers to refrain from attending home inspections in occupied homes.)
All buyers, whether in attendance or not, receive a full, written report, complete with pictures. When buyers and agents are not present during the inspection, our inspectors are arranging to go over their findings with them by phone and answer any questions they may have. (You can always call and get your home inspection questions answered. We’ve always been here for you and remain so.)
Other safety measures we’re still using include:
Protective gear: Our inspectors are wearing booties over their shoes and boots any time they are inside a home. They’re also donning protective gloves and masks when appropriate.
Frequent hand washing: Our inspectors are washing their hands when they enter a home and before leaving. If it’s not possible to do so, they are using hand sanitizer.
Keeping equipment sanitized: Our inspectors wipe down all their equipment with sanitizing wipes between inspections, so everything they bring into a home is clean.
Certified Covid-19 safety training: All our inspectors have completed the Covid-19 Safety Guidelines course through the InterNACHI School, a home inspector college accredited by the US Department of Education.
Maintaining social distancing: We are asking buyers who attend home inspections to maintain proper social distancing and to wear masks when indoors. We are asking buyers not to attend home inspections in occupied homes as a courtesy to the people living there. Anything we can do remotely and by phone helps to keep everyone safer.
We’re here for you: Our inspectors and staff are happy to answer any questions you may have about our safety protocols and any other aspects of our home inspection process. As always, we’re here for you.
All of us at Hawley Home Inspections value our relationship with our clients and with you, their agents, and we appreciate your referrals. Please know that if there is anything we can do for you, we encourage you to let us know. We are here for you.
For more useful home maintenance tips and information visit us at:
Have you neglected to clean your washing machine? It can seem counter-intuitive at first—this is the machine
that CLEANS things, so shouldn’t it, by definition, be clean?
Nope. Dirt and grime from all those dirty clothes don’t wash away entirely and eventually builds up in your machine, as well as hard water minerals and possibly
mold and mildew. So, then you are essentially washing clothes in dirty water. Yuck!
The good news is there is a cheap and easy fix. All you need is some white vinegar, bleach and your washers hot
water cycle. Exactly which way to approach the task depends on what type of machine you have.
Front Loading Washing Machines:
Run your machine on a hot cycle using about two cups of vinegar (add vinegar to the detergent dispenser or right in the tub). Vinegar is great for cleaning grime and soap scum.
Once the vinegar wash cycle is complete, do the same thing again using two cups of chlorine bleach and the hottest water setting. This time, when the wash cycle is done, run an extra rinse cycle to make sure all the bleach has been washed away.
Don’t forget to clean the rubber seal around the door! Wipe it down using a solution of ¼ cup bleach and about a quart of warm water. Wipe it down using a clean cloth as thoroughly as possible, then dry it with an absorbent cloth.
Top Loading Washing Machines:
Run the bleach clean first using about a quart of bleach. Fill with hot water and bleach, then let it soak for an hour or so to kill all the mold, mildew, and germs. Again, run a complete wash on the hottest water setting you have. No need to double rinse. Next, fill the washer with hot water and about a quart of vinegar. Again, let it soak for an hour. Then run it again using the hottest water setting.
All machines will benefit from a simple wipe down with vinegar water. Be sure to get into the nooks and crannies, and don’t forget the inside of the door or lid!
If you can remove the soap, bleach and fabric softener dispensers, soak them in a sink or pail of soapy water for a few minutes. Clean each piece with a rag or brush. Rinse and dry them and put
Be sure to wipe down the outside of the machine with a damp cloth. Ta-da! Your washer is
Check out these tips for how to clean your dryer vent from Ace Hardware.
Protecting your home & family from mold and other contaminants can be a daunting job. Indoor air quality is a major concern as we spend a lot more time inside our homes these days. Even before pandemic worries had us all staying home, people in the U.S. spent about 70% of their lives inside their homes. This suggests that the condition of your home is a primary factor in your overall health. If your home has problems, your health may be suffering, too.
Of the 137 million homes in the United States, 12 million have problems with water leaks and four million have experienced mold problems within the last year.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency molds are part of the natural environment and can be found everywhere, indoors and outdoors. The EPA says it isn’t generally a problem unless it begins growing indoors. Unchecked, indoors it can damage a home’s structure, causing wood rot and ruined drywall. It can also cause significant health problems.
High indoor levels are associated with a wide range of health issues, including respiratory illnesses such as asthma. Chronic coughing and sneezing, irritation to the eyes, mucus membranes of the nose and throat, rashes, chronic fatigue, and persistent headaches can all be symptomatic of black mold exposure or black mold poisoning. The condition of a person’s housing is an important influence on their health.
It can be hard to identify mold problems because the source is often in isolated areas—behind walls, and in attics and crawl spaces. An indoor Air Quality Test can identify these issues and allows us to make recommendations that will guard your family’s health and your home’s safety.
A professional test starts with a thorough inspection of your property. We will investigate any signs of past or present water intrusion which can promote mold growth. Testing allows us to record an accurate comparison. Swab testing is also available for visible microbial growth. Our inspectors are IAC2 Certified. That means they’re air quality experts.
If our inspectors do find mold in your home, there are ways to clean it up. The US EPA (https://www.epa.gov/mold/mold-cleanup-your-home) has plenty of helpful information on mold clean up, including when to do it yourself and when to call in professionals.
For more useful home maintenance information visit us at
We are changing our approach to home inspections and COVID-19. As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe and in our communities, we are constantly re-evaluating our policies and procedures. We want to keep you up to date on changes in our practices aimed at protecting our clients, employees, realtors, sellers, and others involved in the home inspection process.
Together, we are facing a truly unprecedented situation. The global corona virus pandemic is affecting all our families, our communities, and our businesses. During this challenging time, I wanted to reach out to you and update you on how we are approaching the situation.
At Hawley Home Inspections, the safety and well-being of our employees, customers, and realtors are always our priority. I wanted to take this opportunity to assure you that Hawley Home Inspections is still here for you. We have put rigorous policies in place to limit exposure and protect the safety and health of our employees and clients, so we can continue to provide the quality services and support you expect. Our inspectors are wearing gloves during all inspections as well as sanitizing all their equipment after each inspection.
In order to protect all parties, we are asking that clients and agents refrain from attending home inspections if they have any cold or flu-like symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath), if they have traveled recently, or have been exposed to anyone suspected of having corona virus. We are also asking that buyers not attend inspections in occupied homes in order to protect all parties. Arrangements can be made to share all inspection details with clients and their agents remotely if needed. Likewise, we ask that listing agents inform us if any occupants of a home we are scheduled to inspect have any symptoms of the virus or have been asked to self-isolate or quarantine.
As always, our inspectors are available by phone to answer any questions you may have regarding the home inspection.
I want you to know all of us at Hawley Home Inspections value our relationship with our clients and their agents, and we appreciate your referrals. During these challenging times, please know that you and your families are in our thoughts and prayers. Kindness, patience, and partnership will get us through this, and we are here for you.
Here are ten questions to ask your home inspector before you make the largest purchase of your life. Most realtors recommend and many lenders require having a professional home inspection performed.
A home inspection may save you thousands of dollars by revealing structural or safety issues that may not have been obvious. It may give your home a clean bill of health; either way knowing is always better than guessing. Before you choose a home inspector you should ask the following questions: Continue reading “ten questions to ask your home inspector”
If your house was built before 1950 there is a good chance it will contain Knob and Tube (K&T) wiring. Knob and tube wiring was used from the 1880’s until the late 1940’s. K & T wiring was almost always installed by a professional electrician.