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Radon: What You Need to Know

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

WHAT IS RADON?

Radon gas is colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas. It is formed by the breakdown of uranium, a natural radioactive material found in soil, rock and groundwater.

WHY IS RADON IMPORTANT?

It is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. In the United States, the EPA estimates that about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year are radon related and in Canada that number stands at approximately 3,000.

WHAT IS THE RISK OF RADON FOUND IN THE HOME?

Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States and Canada is estimated to have an elevated radon level.

HOW DOES RADON GET INTO THE HOME?

When radon is released from the ground into the outdoor air, it gets diluted to low concentrations and is not a concern. Within homes, it typically moves up through the flooring system and other openings between the ground and living spaces. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem – this means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. Even if you live in an area with fairly low environmental radon, you could still have significant levels in your home.


WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?

Radon testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. Pillar To Post conducts a short term test using a continuous monitor to provide a snapshot of the home to see if it has elevated levels of Radon. Testing takes approximately 2-3 days and results are provided are interpreted and the report is sent directly to the client.

Are you looking to sell or buy a house, a condo, a villa or an apartment in Miami Florida or New York City? Do not hesitate to contact us at info@kijner.com or visit us at www.kijner.com.

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Information courtesy of Pillar to Post: www.pillartopost.com.

Oldies but goodies: living with an older home

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

The charms of living in an older home can be many – history, style, craftsmanship, quirks. But there’s no denying that living in such a home has its challenges. Maintenance can be tricky and expensive, especially if certain systems and features have been neglected over the years. Let’s take a look at some common situations found in many older homes:

  • Energy inefficiency is probably the number one issue with older homes. Most older homes were constructed with single-pane windows; if these windows are still there, they likely don’t fit very well. Replacement windows can be very expensive, but will contribute immensely to reduced energy use and lower heating and cooling costs. Most replacement windows are available in several styles and at different price points, so finding one that suits the look of an older home is easier than ever.
  • Like single-pane windows, poor insulation will also waste energy and money. The most important and easiest area of the home to insulate is the attic, but walls and floors above ventilated crawlspaces should be insulated as well if possible. The attic may already have insulation but it may be inadequate by current standards.
  • If the home has older water pipes, they should be checked to identify the material and determine if they need to be replaced. Some older materials such as galvanized steel, iron, and even lead are still in use today even though new construction does not allow them. Replacement options include copper and CPVC piping.
  • Outdated electrical systems can still sometimes be found in older homes and may not only be dangerous, they can make the house uninsurable in some situations. Even if no danger is present, we use much more electricity in our homes today and the capacity of older systems may be inadequate. Only a qualified electrician should attempt any repairs or updates to a home’s electrical system. 

With careful maintenance and a nod to history, older homes can be comfortable, stylish, and even energy efficient in the right hands.

Are you looking to sell or buy a house, a condo, a villa or an apartment in Miami Florida or New York City? Do not hesitate to contact us at info@kijner.com or visit us at www.kijner.com.

Holiday and Winter Fire Safety

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

Residential fires take their toll every day, every year, in lost lives and destroyed property. The fact is that many conditions that cause house fires can be avoided or prevented by homeowners. Taking the time for some simple precautions, preventive inspections, and concrete planning can help prevent fire in the home – and can save lives should disaster strike. Here are some important recommendations for homeowners:

  • All electrical devices including lamps, appliances, and electronics should be checked for frayed cords, loose or broken plugs, and exposed wiring. Never run electrical wires under carpet or rugs as this creates a fire hazard. 
  • Wood-burning fireplaces should be cleaned by a professional chimney sweep each year to prevent a dangerous buildup of creosote, which can cause a flash fire in the chimney. Cracks in masonry chimneys should be repaired, and spark arresters inspected to ensure they are in good condition and free of debris.
  • If using space heaters, keep them away from beds and bedding, curtains, papers – anything flammable. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Space heaters should not be left unattended or where a child or pet could knock them over. 
  • Use smoke detectors with fresh batteries unless they are hard-wired to your home’s electrical system. There are also some newer models with ten-year batteries. Smoke detectors should be installed high on walls or on ceilings on every level of the home, outside each sleeping area and inside each bedroom. Statistics show that nearly 60% of home fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Most municipalities now require the use of working smoke detectors in both single and multi-family residences. 
  • Children should not have access to or be allowed to play with matches, lighters, or candles. Flammable materials such as gasoline, kerosene or propane should be stored outside of and away from the house.
  • Kitchen fires know no season. Grease spills, items left unattended on the stove or in the oven, and food left in toasters or toaster ovens can catch fire quickly. Don’t wear loose fitting clothing, especially with long sleeves, around the stove. Handles of pots and pans should be turned away from the front of the stove to prevent accidental contact. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach.
  • Have an escape plan. This is one of the most important measures you can take to prevent death in a fire. Your local fire department can provide detailed recommendations on escape planning and preparedness. Another excellent resource is www.ready.gov. In addition, all family members should know how to dial 911 in case of a fire or other emergency.
  • Live Christmas trees should be kept in a water-filled stand and checked daily for dehydration. Needles should not easily break off a freshly-cut tree. Brown needles or lots of fallen needles indicate a dangerously dried-out tree, which should be discarded immediately. Always use nonflammable decorations in the home, and never use lights on a dried-out tree. 
  • Candles should be placed in stable holders and placed away from curtains, drafts, pets, and children. Never leave candles unattended, even for a short time.
  • Holiday lights should be checked for fraying or broken wires and plugs. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when joining two or more strands together, as a fire hazard could result from electrical overload. Enjoy your indoor holiday lighting only while someone is home, and turn the lights off before going to bed at night.

 Are you looking to sell or buy a house, a condo, a villa or an apartment in Miami Florida or New York City? Do not hesitate to contact us at info@kijner.com or visit us at www.kijner.com.

Tips for Maintaining Fireplaces

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

A wood-burning fireplace is an appealing feature of many homes. Here are some reminders and tips for keeping safe and getting full enjoyment from your fireplace this season:

Annual Inspections – Have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional to ensure that it’s obstruction free and clear of creosote – a black, oily substance that can build up on the inside walls of the chimney. Because creosote is highly combustible, a thick accumulation creates a serious hazard that can put your home at risk of a major fire.

Feeding Your Fire – Use dry, well-seasoned hardwoods in your fireplace. Avoid using pine and other oily woods, as these will not burn cleanly. If you choose to use manufactured fire “logs”, do not burn them with real wood to avoid the possibility of serious flare-ups.

Plan Ahead – Keep the area around the hearth clear of debris, decorations, and flammable materials. Use a metal mesh screen that covers the opening, whether you have glass fireplace doors or not. Leave glass doors open while a fire is burning to ensure good ventilation and airflow.

When to Clean – During periods of heavy use, clean out the firebox regularly once the embers are cold. Leave about an inch of ash because it acts as insulation, allowing the new fuel to heat faster and retain heat longer. Never use a vacuum to clean up fresh ashes, as embers can smolder for as long as several days after the fire is out, creating a real fire hazard.

Upkeep – Check that vents are unobstructed and able to do their job. If you have a fireplace fan, keep it clean. In non-wood burning fireplaces, clean and adjust glowing embers and logs for best appearance.

Cap Your Chimney – Have a cap installed at the top of the chimney to deter animals from entering, help prevent water damage and keep debris from blocking the opening. A spark arrestor will prevent live embers from escaping the chimney and landing on your roof or on other buildings.

Use Common Sense – Never leave a fire unattended. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed, and always keep children and pets away from the fireplace. 

Be Community Aware – Many local ordinances prohibit the burning of wood, manufactured logs, or pellets on days or nights when the amount of particulate matter in the air reaches a predetermined level. Be sure to check with your local air quality district or fire department before lighting your next fire.

Are you looking to sell or buy a house, a condo, a villa or an apartment in Miami Florida or New York City? Do not hesitate to contact us at info@kijner.com or visit us at www.kijner.com.

Tips For Fall Maintenance 2

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

Fall is a great time to prepare the home for the upcoming season. It’s also a good reminder to check key areas around the home for defects or repairs.

We are pleased to share this list with you courtesy of the nationwide experts at Pillar To Post Home Inspectors:

INTERIOR

✓ Check ceiling & surfaces around windows for evidence of moisture
✓ Check caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilet base
✓ Verify ceiling areas beneath bathrooms have no leakage
✓ Ensure all stairs & railing do not have any loose sections
✓ Test all fire & safety systems regularly, including carbon monoxide (CO) detectors
✓ Know the location of all gas shut-off valves

HEATING & COOLING

 Clean or change furnace filters every three months of operation
✓ Lubricate fan and motor bearings (only where indicated)
✓ Check fan belt tension and listen for unusual noises
✓ Keep area around heating and cooling equipment clear
✓ For boiler systems, check water level and shut-off valve for leaks
✓ Have system serviced annually prior to the start of the season

ELECTRICAL

✓ Periodically check exposed wiring and cable. Replace as necessary.
✓ Check all lamp cords, extension cords & receptacles for wear.
✓ Trip circuit breakers every six (6) months & ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI’s) monthly to ensure proper function
✓ Learn location of electrical service panels and label each circuit
 If fuses blow, circuit breakers trip frequently, or any appliance sparks or shorts out, contact a licensed electrician for repairs

DOORS & WINDOWS

✓ Look for loose or missing glazing putty
✓ Check caulking for deterioration at the openings and joints between dissimilar materials (e.g. wood and masonry)
 Check weather stripping
 Check for broken glass and damaged or missing screens
✓ Inspect all window and door hardware

PLUMBING

✓ Check all faucets, hose bibbs and supply valves for leaking
✓ Check for evidence of leaks around and under sinks, showers, toilets and tubs. Check all joints for adequate grout.
 Inspect lawn sprinkler system for leaky valves and exposed lines
✓ Have the septic tank cleaned every two (2) years
✓ Check the main water shut-off valve for operation and leakage

ROOF

 Check for any missing, loose or damaged shingles
✓ Look for open seams, blisters, bald areas on flat roofs
✓ Clean gutters, strainers and downspouts. Make sure downspouts divert water away from the foundation.
✓ Verify the attic has no evidence of any leaks
✓ Check flashing (sheet metal placed on joints of the roof to prevent water seepage) around all surface projections, sidewalls and protrusions
✓ Trim back all tree limbs and vegetation away from the roof
✓ Check fascia (board or roof trim) and soffits (connecting the roof overhang and the side of your building)  for deterioration and damage

FOUNDATION & EXTERIOR

✓ Check foundation walls and floors for cracking, heaving, spalling, deterioration or efflorescence
✓ Inspect chimney for loose, deteriorated or missing mortar or bricks
✓ Check grading for proper slope away from the foundation
✓ Verify basement and crawlspace has no moisture or leaks
✓ Check all wood surfaces for weathering and paint failure
✓ Inspect all decks, patios, porches, stairs and railings for deterioration
✓ Cut back and trim all vegetation from structures

Are you looking to sell or buy a house, a condo, a villa or an apartment in Miami Florida or New York City? Do not hesitate to contact us at info@kijner.com or visit us at www.kijner.com

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83-85 Boulevard de Charonne, 75011 Paris, France


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