How You Can Outsmart Burglars

Did you know that 2 million homes are robbed every year- that's one every 15 seconds! Reformed burglars were consulted to get the real scoop on how to protect you home. The mistakes they said people make are

#1. Leaving the burglar alarm off when leaving for short periods.
Most homes that they robbed had expensive alarm systems, but more than half weren't turned on.

#2. Posting specific alarm signs.
Identifying your alarm company gives burglars critical information- they can easily buy a diagram to see how it is wired. Instead buy a generic This Home is protected by an Alarm System sign.

#3. Hiding valuables in the bedroom.
This is the first place burglars look. Keep valuables in a safe deposit box or hidden in areas burglars don't usually look- in the garage, above ceiling tiles, in the freezer, etc.

#4. Getting a big dog.
Most big breeds, unless trained as guard dogs, aren't barkers - "yapper" dogs are best.

#5. Hiding windows with landscaping.
Tall bushes allow burglars obscurity. Thorny bushes are also not a deterrent -- burglars wear gloves and 2 layers of clothing, and carry cutting tools.

#6. Leaving lights on.
A light that stays on is no more of a deterrent than a dark house -- use timers that turn lights on and off at different intervals; motions detectors also effective. The more activity, the less likely your house will be targeted.

#7. Having your newspaper stopped.
You may trust your newspaper carrier, but you don't know who else is getting this information. Burglars often get tips about homeowners going on vacation. Have someone pick up your newspaper at different times and stop your mail at the post office.

What About Peace And Quiet?

We've all had many occasions to notice the increase in noise levels in our lives - from traffic, industry, neighborhood activities, the boom box disguised as a car, etc. In fact, since the 1970's automobile and aircraft noise has been drowned out by small trucks (up 750%), large trucks (up 261%), and combinations tractor trailers (up 385%). Along with this, air travel has increased by 273% and air cargo by 545%. Miles traveled by car has also increased 175%. Add this all of the new devices now available for making noise and it's a wonder we can think or hear at all.

Not surprisingly, noise is no longer just an urban issue, with many folks moving to the suburbs and rural areas; noise has been carried into the country.

If you are considering buying a home in a new community, it would be worth your time to drive around the neighborhood and investigate the noise levels. I met a couple who bought a home and moved-in on a weekend not realizing that with Monday morning came with radical increase in traffic and industrial noise that made them regret their choice.

According to a number of studies, traffic and industrial noise can lead to health issues such as hypertension.

Before we talk about what you can do to make your home a refuge of peace and quiet, I would like to motivate you, from health perspective, to look for ways to decrease the noise levels in your home. A number of studies suggest a strong correlation between noises and is blood pressure, trouble sleeping, and headaches. Emotional effects can include stress, which can exacerbate depression and anxiety, not to mention the irritation and loss of enjoyment of your home and property.

Fortunately there are a number of products that can make your home a quieter place. Sound proofing can be accomplished to varying of products and materials such as flooring (especially if you live in a multi-family building), insulation, doors, windows, specialized noise abating panel systems and landscaping. Many of these products solve two problems by not only providing for more quiet, but also by insulating for energy conservation.

Icynene is one of these products. It is a water based, spray-in-place soft foam insulation which expands to 100 times it's initial volume on seconds forming an air tight protective barrier. Icynene also has excellent sound attenuation properties and is ideal for bathrooms, media rooms, and for controlling noise from outside. Another attribute of Icynene is that it has been used around the US in mold-remediation projects. The American Lung Association's Health House demonstration houses use Icynene.

Another product which provides for both sound controls while insulating is Spider Custom Insulation by John Manville. It is also a spray-in product that fills gap and voids while being mold resistant.

As with many things, it is easier to solve potential problems, like noise control, when you are building a home. A product called Quiet Rock is a choice about 90% of sound proofing projects according to one supplier. Quiet Rock comes in seven different products configurations so it is likely they have what your projects require. Since it hangs like regular drywall, there is no additional expense for labor and a single layer of Quiet Rock is equivalent to 8 layers of standard drywall.

Quiet Home Windows and Doors are also designed to keep noise out. They cam be purchased in both vinyl and fiberglass.

Comparing the various sound proofing materials and products can be done by determining the product's STC rating. STC stands for Sound Transmission Class and the number is roughly equivalent to the "dB's" lost through a partition. dB stands for decibels-- a unit for measuring the relative loudness of sounds. To make this a useful piece of information you'll want to know that every 10 STC points reduces noise by 50%, so the noise reduction difference between a 20 STC product and a 30 STC product is a noise reduction of 50%.

A final word about noise. The word noise comes from the Latin nausea, meaning "seasickness" or possibly the word noxia meaning "I do Harm" (certainly describes a lot of kinds of noise for us.)

It is a mistake to believe that you just get used to certain types of noise__ studies have shown this is not the case.

Protecting Your Health With A Whole House Water Filter

Regardless of where your water comes from -- a city water system, a well, lake, river or other source, the chances are good that some impurities are present. Besides being a universal solvent, water is also home to host of creatures, some of which can be hazardous to your health.

Most city water system are old and in poor repair. In some cases, sewer lines share the same trench as water lines and leaks are not uncommon. Most aquifers are open to ground water contamination from a variety of sources-- once pure sources of water, therefore, have become contaminated or face the risk of becoming contaminated.

Ensuring a source of clean healthful water, a most critical ingredient of good health, is not that difficult to accomplish with the filtration systems available today. There are filters that can remove everything from large particles down to the smallest biological organisms.

The first step is to determine the quality of your water by having it tested. Some water will have obvious indicators such as color, taste, smell, and sediment.

Next, you will need to determine what aspects of your water you want to treat, as well as what system of filtration or purification, or combination thereof, you want to employ. Cost is also a factor. Some problems can be solved economically, while others can be relatively expensive.

The whole house filter is becoming the choice of many homeowners simply because it covers a wide range of potential problems, and can be customized to deal with a variety of contaminants. In addition, they are more cost effective than single source units, with the added advantage of having clean water at every tap in the house. Lower maintenance is another advantage with whole house filters because they require fewer filter changes than single source units.

One area that has come to many peoples attention is chlorine, which has been used for the past 80 years to help eliminate harmful organisms. The National Cancer Institute, however, as estimated that the cancer risk for people who consume chlorinated water is 95% higher than for those who consume de-chlorinated water. Not only is there a risk with drinking chlorinated water, but taking hot showers also exposed you to chlorine gas where it can directly penetrate your lungs. For some with sensitive skin, it can also be an irritant.

Filters can be arranged in a variety of combinations, coarse filters for removing heavy metals such as iron and sediment can be set in line with carbon filters to improve taste, smell and clarity for example. Filters are also available for removing bacterial threats such as the dreaded pathogens coliform and giardia.

A recently discovered threat to the quality of the water we drink is the emergence of pharmaceutical drugs. According to the EPA, a wide variety of prescription drugs are showing up in rivers, lakes and ground way through water after making their way through sewage treatment plants.

For more information how to treat your water and protect your family's health, go to the Water Quality Association Website at

About Us

As one of the first Home Inspectors to be certified under the new Oregon Law (Division 8 of OAR chapter 812), I and sensitive to the importance of helping you make a sound decision when purchasing your home. With over 2500 local inspections covering all types of construction to my credit, I have the knowledge of local building practices and the experience to spot adverse conditional.

I am trained and Certified by the American Institute of Inspectors. - A non- profit trade association for home inspectors. To keep abreast of important changes in the industry, I take continuing education classes in various aspects of home inspection.

My background also includes six years as a Disaster Damage Inspector for the Small Business Administration, fifteen years as a Regional Housing Economist with US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development and Five years as a Contractor an investor in single and multi-family residential properties. I have a BS Degree in Economics from University of Wisconsin including courses in engineering and architecture.

Quotes Of The Month

"Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now"

-Steven Wright