Where Should I Store My Firewood?

Firewood stacked next to home

It may seem logical and convenient to store freshly cut firewood in your fireplace, near it, or on the back patio of your Aurora home, but can you store firewood in or near your home? When planning firewood storage for winter, you should always store your freshly cut wood far away from your property. Read on to learn about best practices on firewood storage. Then, if you have questions along the way, don’t hesitate to contact the BrickKicker

Can I Store Firewood in My Home? 

As we mentioned earlier, you shouldn’t store firewood in or right outside your Naperville home. That includes your garage. This is because firewood attracts pests. So, where should you store your firewood? We recommend storing your firewood in a dry area about 20 feet away from your house with great airflow. To ensure ventilation in your outdoor firewood stack, stack your logs in rows that are no more than 4 feet high, with the bark-side of the split wood pointed upwards. 

How Long Can I Store Firewood?  

When you cut wood, each log needs time to ripen before you should use it in your fireplace. Fresh logs are known as “green wood,” which doesn’t burn well, gunks up your chimney, and increases carbon monoxide build-up. One of the reasons you should store your logs outside is to create the right conditions for your logs to ripen. Proper firewood storage for winter involves keeping your wood stacked outside for 6 months, in the summer and fall months leading up to winter. 

As you cure your firewood, make sure to purchase a firewood cover in order to protect your logs from the elements. Only use it during inclement weather, making sure to remove it, so you can maintain an open space with adequate airflow around your firewood stack. If kept dry and properly stacked, firewood can last up to 10 years.  

What Should I Do If My Firewood Stack Develops Termites?

If you’ve gone a few years without covering your firewood stack, it’s likely accumulated a lot of moisture and rot. This is a perfect breeding ground for termites, which can travel into your house, and almost definitely will if you bring infested wood into your fireplace.

To avoid this scenario, inspect your wood for termites. If you see little holes in your wood, tunnels on the surface of the wood, and even worker termites, don’t bring it inside. Most of these holes run in clusters, so if you see an isolated hole or two, it may not be cause for concern.

If you notice an infestation, check your yard and house for other signs of infestation and take care of the problem ASAP as it can develop quickly. On a side note, the BrickKicker is more than equipped to detect signs of termite infestation in your Lisle home. 

Have Questions About Proper Firewood Storage for Winter?  

Now that you know where you should store your firewood and whether you can store firewood in your home, if you have further questions, call the BrickKicker in Chicagoland at (800) 821-1820. If you find yourself in need of a home inspection for any reason, be sure to explore our services, and if you’re curious about other home care topics, check out our blog for helpful reads about how to get rid of mold and how to clean gutters and downspouts.

How to Clean Your Kitchen Exhaust Fan

Kitchen with exhaust fan

Your kitchen exhaust fan helps pull steam, odors, heat, and grease away from your cookware and stove. By vacuuming and dispersing the above, it helps to keep you cool while cooking at the stove and prevents build-ups of grease to minimize the risk of fires. It’s important that you know how to clean your exhaust fan filters, how often to clean your exhaust fans, and when to have them inspected professionally. If you don’t clean your filters, your fan will stop doing its job effectively, and your stove will become a fire hazard. Read on to learn about the steps you should take, and if you find you’re in need of a home inspector near Naperville, contact the BrickKicker for affordable help! 

Simple Steps for How to Clean Exhaust Fan Filters 

Wondering about how to clean the kitchen exhaust fan in your Aurora home? You’ll want to clean both the fan filter and the fan blades. Take a look at our easy-to-follow instructions for degreasing both components of your kitchen exhaust fan. 

How to Clean Exhaust Fan Filters 

  • Remove the filter from the fan. 
  • Soak it in boiling water. 
  • Then scrub it with grease-cutting dish soap that won’t harm the mesh in the filter. 
  • Rinse it and reinstall it. 

How to Clean Exhaust Fan Blades

  • Turn off the power in your breaker box. 
  • Unplug your exhaust fan. 
  • Procure a trisodium phosphate cleaner. 
  • Make sure to wear a mask. 
  • Scrub at the back of the fan case. 
  • Then, scrub the blades with the solution. 
  • Repeat this process until you’ve broken up all of the grease. 
  • Dry as you go. 

How Often To Clean Exhaust Fans 

We recommend that you clean your kitchen fan every 6 months. If you frequently cook, aim for every 3 months to 4 months. If your kitchen fan features a charcoal filter, it can’t be cleaned. To ensure your safety, have your kitchen exhaust fan inspected by a professional annually. 

Have Questions About How to Clean Exhaust Fan Filters? 

Now that you know how to clean your kitchen exhaust fan and how often to clean your kitchen exhaust fan, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the BrickKicker. Our phone number is (800) 821-1820. We can answer your questions and if you need an affordable home inspection, we can provide you with our 30-plus years of expertise in Chicagoland at a surprisingly low price. In the meantime, explore our services and browse through our blogs for other helpful reads, including our guides on Radon testing and how to save energy at home!

Electric Clearance

One of the most common issues found during a home inspection is poor clearance to the electric panel or service. The electric panel could be placed in just about any location of a home. We have found them in closets, kitchens, basements, garages and hallways.

While the specific location might have some jurisdictional requirements there is one standard that is consistent across the country. An electric panel must have at least 30 inches of clearance from side to side and at least 3 feet of clearance from front to back. This is the magic work zone or clearance that has to be maintained at all times.

A wall could be finished in a basement and this wall could be enclosing the panel into a closet or behind an impediment. If there is not a 3 foot clearance zone between the panel and the wall, the wall is not correct.

This clearance has been created for the safety of the electrician or anyone else coming into contact with panel. The inspection or service of the electric panel is very dangerous. Coming into contact with live electricity can cause injury or even death.

Your The BrickKicker inspector is an expert on the electric distribution and identifying the visual issues of the electric system of a home. Please reach out to them with any questions you might have with your electric panel or system.

MOLD

This is a huge topic to discuss. The best way to talk about this is to really bring it down to the most basic level of conversation. There are three major inhabitants of this earth. They are animals, plants and fungi. Within those three inhabitants there are hundreds of thousands of species fighting for equal existence. All this is deep but we need to talk about mold and where it fits in this conversation.

Mold like other fungi, has several different species within the family. Each of these species has a different role and job to do. Mold is also a hitchhiker and can attach to other species. These could even be us. We could walk across the grass and have mold attach to our shoes and walking into our homes brings in the molds.

One of the challenges with mold is there are not governmental standards producing a “pass or fail” level of mold. This is mainly because there are so many different molds there would have to be a standard created for each of the various species of them. The other is each person has a different tolerance or personal action level for each mold. A great example is cat or dog dander. One person might be very content to have a pet rub up against them while another will have an allergic reaction to that same animal. Mold is similar. One person might have a reaction to one species while another has no reaction.

The easiest way to look at mold is to lump all of various molds and species into three very basic categories; Allergenic, Toxigenic, and Pathogenic. Allergenic molds are those that might make a person sneeze and wheeze. There might be some form of allergic reaction. A toxigenic mold is one that might make someone have a more adverse reaction and more significant reactions. A pathogenic mold could be a mold that is more extreme with the potential of a fatal reaction.

By looking at the mold this way one might consider the action levels to produce a varied cleaning or action plan. Allergenic molds are very topical and could be thoroughly cleaned. This cleaning should eliminate the molds and leave the surfaces or areas safe. Toxigenic molds might require a more invasive cleaning which includes removal of the affected areas and thoroughly cleaning to leave the areas free of the molds. When pathogenic molds are present advanced and professional remediation is always recommended. These cleanup measures will be very invasive and potentially costly.

A home inspector might test for mold with the goal as to produce a list of the various species present and levels of mold of those species quantified. By identifying these species and noted what, of the three types are present, an educated action plan can be created.

A The BrickKicker inspector has the ability to provide mold sampling. These samples are sent to a lab and your mold report will be created. The BrickKicker is not a remediation specialist and so we can help you with any of your next steps.

The Importance of a Thorough Inspection Following a Natural Disaster

Natural disasters are a common occurrence. Be it a tornado, hurricane, mudslide, earthquake, tsunami, wildfire, or some other type, these destructive events can wreak havoc on everything that comes in their path. Often, however,  natural disasters leave behind unseen damage that can be a health hazard to people nearby. 

Homes are often seriously compromised in a variety of ways following a natural disaster. So, if you’re the owner of a house that’s just gone through a natural disaster, let’s take a look at the importance of performing a thorough inspection after the fact. 

1. Obtaining Disaster Relief

If your home went through a federal disaster like a major hurricane or something similar, you’ll likely qualify for some kind of disaster relief. Disaster relief is given out in accordance with the level of damage your home has suffered in most cases, so getting an inspection to officially verify the amount of damage that occurred is crucial to getting the relief you’re entitled to. A proper inspector can inspect the framing of a house as well as all other areas to get a full tally of everything. 

2. Prevent Further Catastrophe

If a major structural issue has been caused by a natural disaster, you can address it before it gets worse by identifying it through inspection. High winds, especially, are known to knock things loose and place homes in precarious positions, primed to collapse or cave-in in some way. You also might have damage that could take a while to discover.

Like if your basement heating is damaged, for example, you might not know until winter rolls around and you try to turn on the heating. By hiring an inspector to go through and test your whole home to see if it had been compromised in a way that might lead to a safety concern, you can avoid potential injury or worse. 

3. Insurance Purposes

Even if you didn’t go through a federally recognized natural disaster, you can still qualify for insurance help for residential properties. Especially if your home was damaged in a way that is covered by your insurance, the first thing you’ll want to do is have an inspector come out and tally up the damage. 

Getting this arbitrary inspection and being able to present the results to your insurance company is crucial to getting compensated for the cost of repairs, as well as any other costs you may be entitled to. 

4. Proper Documentation

If you want to sell your home in the future, having an inspection on record after a natural disaster will put a lot of people at ease who might be interested in buying your property. 

Natural disasters are known to cause immense amounts of undocumented damage whenever they strike, so by proving that your home is up to code with local regulations even after a natural disaster, you can make your property seem that much more legit. 

You can also use a post-disaster inspection to take account of garage door replacement costs as well as other costs you covered during the cleanup and repair process. 

Inspections are Vital After a Natural Disaster

If you own a home of any type, natural disasters are your worst enemy. They can strike at any time and cause untold amounts of damage and destruction. That’s why, if your home has lived through a natural disaster, you need an inspection pronto. 

Getting an inspection directly after a natural disaster will help you resolve issues, tally up costs, invest in repairs, and document everything for insurance purposes, and more down the road. 

Brian Jeffries is the content director for the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value. 

What is Involved With a Chimney Inspection?

Chimney on rooftop and clouds

What is Involved With a Chimney Inspection? 

Over time, your chimney gets clogged with soot and creosote. This is the most common cause of chimney fires. This build-up can also restrict airflow and damage your chimney. Furthermore, birds and other pests often make their homes in chimneys, so it’s important to hire a chimney sweeping service to clean out your chimney flue. But when should you get a chimney inspection, what is the cost of a chimney inspection, and what all does a chimney inspection cover? Read on to find out, and then, if you need a Chicago home inspection, contact the BrickKicker for a comprehensive inspection of your house! 

What Does a Chimney Inspection Cover? 

There are often different levels of chimney sweeping services. Let’s break them up into three levels to give you an idea of what the average package will include at each tier. We’ll also cover what the cost of a chimney inspection is at each level. 

  • Level 1 ($80-$200): You can expect a visual inspection of your fireplace. The chimney sweep will inspect for damages, buildup, and pests. If the chimney sweep feels that the flue needs to be cleaned, he’ll get to work immediately. What does this chimney inspection cover? Brushing and vacuuming the flue. 
  • Level 2 ($100-$500): This involves everything included in the level 1 inspection. It also includes an inspection of your chimney at roof and attic levels, and video-scanning for detection of subtler vulnerabilities in the structure of your chimney. 
  • Level 3 ($1,000-$5,000): At this level, your chimney may need to be demolished and have its walls rebuilt. 

When Should I Get a Chimney Inspection? 

Now that you know what the cost of a chimney inspection is, and what a chimney inspection covers, let’s take a look at when you should hire chimney sweeping services near Aurora.

  • Level 1: We recommend getting a chimney inspection once every 12 months, regardless how often you do or don’t use it. 
  • Level 2: If you’ve bought a new home, it’s likely a good idea to opt for a deep inspection of your chimney. It’s also a good idea if your house has been involved in a hurricane or earthquake. 
  • Level 3: If you’ve had a chimney fire and the wall’s of your flue have been burnt to crisp, it’s likely time for a level 3 inspection. 

Need a Home Inspection Near Naperville? 

Now that you know what a chimney inspection covers and when to get a chimney inspection service, if you have questions, reach out to the BrickKicker for answers. On a side note, if you’re looking to put a house on the market, you’ve recently purchased a home, or you want a full diagnostic, so you can stay on top of home care, the BrickKicker can help. We’ve been offering expert home inspections to our neighbors across Chicagoland for decades at affordable prices. Take a moment to explore our services and to explore our blog for handy reads on home care! Then, call us at 800-821-1820!

What Are Storm Windows?

Inspector Looking at Windows

Storm windows are windows that are installed on the exterior of your home. They’re an extra layer of insulation and protection over the primary window panes already installed in your sills. Take a moment to learn about the benefits of storm windows, the differences between storm windows vs. replacement windows, and how you can save energy with storm windows during winter. If you find you’re in need of a home inspection near Aurora along the way, get in touch with the BrickKicker for help! 

The Benefits of Storm Windows  

You can save energy with storm windows during the winter. After all, they’re installed outside of your primary panes as an additional buffer, so they provide Naperville homes with better insulation and keep heating bills down. Other benefits include:

  • Noise reduction 
  • Affordable 
  • Easy-to-install 

The Differences Between Storm Windows vs. Replacement Windows  

“Replacement Windows” refers to any window you use to replace your current window pane. If you have decades-old windows with poor insulation, opting for new replacement windows can be quite expensive. While the latest replacement windows offer even better insulation than storm windows, many homeowners opt for storm windows as a more affordable solution that will get the job done. Storm windows don’t necessarily require professional labor for installation, whereas most replacement windows will. While they’re the more affordable option, you can still save energy with storm windows during winter. 

Reach Out to the BrickKicker If You Have Questions 

Now that you’ve read about the benefits of storm windows and know the differences between storm windows vs. replacement windows, if you have further questions, give us a call! Our phone number is (800) 821-1820

On a side note, if you’re trying to keep up with your annual home maintenance checklist, and you’d like to hire an affordable home inspector to show you what the hottest items on your list should be, the BrickKicker provides trusted home inspection services in greater Chicago. We’re happy to help! Have other questions about home care? Explore our blog for other helpful reads, including our overview of ways to save energy at home and how to prepare your home for winter!

How Do I Remove a Birds’ Nest?

Birds are lovely, but they can wreak havoc on your home. From clogging your gutters to blocking vents on your roof for the dryer or stove, damaging your roof, and ruining the paint job on your car. If you’re considering removing a birds’ nest from your Aurora home, you’ll need to follow careful steps. You don’t want to hurt birds or accidentally disturb incubating eggs.

Furthermore, there are federal laws under the Migratory Bird Act that come with hefty punishments should you move the nest of an endangered species. Before you follow our steps, it’s imperative that you get in contact with a Wildlife Control Company to verify that the species of bird you’re dealing with doesn’t put you at risk of breaking federal law. Once you’re cleared to proceed, follow our steps, and if you have questions along the way, contact your Chicogoland home inspection experts, the BrickKicker

Birds’ Nest Removal in Three Easy Steps

We’ve broken the process of how to remove a birds’ nest down into three easy steps. Follow them to effectively and safely remove your birds’ nest: 

  • Wait for Nesting Season to End: The majority of bird species around Naperville only nest once a year, but some species nest as many as 4 to 5 times a year. To determine if your birds’ nest is in or off season, grab your bird guide, identify the bird species you’re dealing with, and google its nesting schedule. If the nest is active, it’s best not to disturb it. 
  • Inspect the Nest: If it’s the off-season, you still need to check the nest for signs of activity. If you find eggs in the nest, don’t touch it. The mama bird has likely left only temporarily to find food and allow the eggs to cool down.  
  • Relocate the Nest: If you’ve determined that nesting season is over and the nest is inactive, it’s time to proceed. Remember that birds’ nest often contains mites and pathogens that are dangerous to humans. Take caution by wearing latex gloves and a long sleeved shirt. Also, before you handle the nest, spray it with an antibacterial solution. Then, seal the next in a ziplock bag and dispose of it in the trash. Finally, spray the area where the nest was with a strong disinfectant, and immediately wash your clothes and hands in hot water. 

Should I Remove a Birds’ Nest From Outdoor Lights?

Absolutely. If the bird lays eggs, federal law prevents you from disturbing the nest, so you won’t be able to make use of your light. Act fast and follow all of the aforementioned steps. 

How Do I Prevent Birds’ Nests on My House?

The single most legal, safe, and effective method is to prevent birds’ nest before they happen. Here are a number of things you can do to help prevent birds’ nests:

  • Move bird baths and bird feeds away from your house and towards the edge of your property. 
  • Install gutter guards. For window sills, eaves, and other good nesting spots that aren’t in your gutters, install perch repellents. 
  • Tightly fasten your trash bags and make sure there isn’t food lying around your garbage cans.  
  • Install visual repellents– statues of foxes, owls, and coyotes. Make sure to move them, as the birds will wise up if the statues stay in one place. 

Reach Out to the BrickKicker for Help in Chicagoland 

If you have more questions about how to remove a birds’ nest, how you can prevent birds’ nests on your house, or whether you should remove a birds’ nest from outdoor lights, call the BrickKickers for answers. Our phone number is 800-821-1820. If you need a home inspection, be sure to explore our Chicago home inspection services, and if you have other home care questions, be sure to explore our blog for other helpful guides.

Photovoltaic Panels

Residential Solar Panels are here to stay.

As a professional home inspector we have the opportunity to help our clients purchase their homes intelligently. It has been increasingly more popular to have photovoltaic (PV) solar panels mounted on our homes. These take the sun’s energy and convert it to usable electricity in our homes. While there is a cost to the installation of these systems the sunny’s energy could help pay for that cost in the form of rebates and electricity savings.

Roof mounted array

There are two basic systems installed on homes today. One is a usage system that produces electricity and puts it directly to use and the other is storage system that will store electricity in a battery for use later. Both are effective but the latter can be more expensive.

Regardless of the system installed on the home the most effective use of the PV electricity created is the ability to sell it back to the utility. This surplus electricity has the ability to flow back to the grid when the power generated is greater than the supply needed. This could be all day while the sun is out and you are at work. Very little electricity is consumed but the sun is generating surplus power and the homeowner is getting the credit or rebate to their account.

The PV system is a very basic system. There is a collection panel that captures the solar energy. This energy is DV current. An inverter changes the DC current to usable AC current and this is distributed into the power supply in your home. If you wish to store some of this energy for times when the sun is not out or the grid is not active then a battery pack is installed prior to entering the house power supply.

Any one part of these systems can fail or have issues. Your The BrickKicker inspector understands these systems and can help insure the proper operation or installation. Please never hesitate to ask us any questions you might have. If you would like to know more about the various incentives for installing PV systems please go to: www.dsireusa.org

How to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing

Frozen pipe bursting water

Why do pipes freeze? Simply put, the subzero winters of greater Chicago can cause your pipes to freeze and potentially burst. While this most commonly happens to pipes on the exterior of your house, and those pipes that run through unheated interior spaces like your basement, it can also happen to the pipes inside your cabinets. If your pipes freeze and burst, you may be looking at a $5,000 repair job. Thankfully, a little preparation can go a long way. Let’s take a look at what can prevent pipes from freezing. 

What Can You Do to Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing Over? 

If you’re wondering about how to keep your pipes from freezing, it’s quite a simple and inexpensive process. Just follow these tips:

  • Pipe insulation is sold at most hardware stores around Aurora, and costs about 50 cents per foot. Apply it liberally. 
  • Run a light trickle from your faucets
  • Keep your garage doors closed
  • Keep your kitchen and bathroom cabinets open to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes they house. 
  • Leave your thermostat at the same temperature all the time—it should be above 65 degrees. 
  • If there’s a room in your house with pipes that just won’t heat up, you can always turn a space heater on in the room when you know that temps are going to drop below freezing.  

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes 

If you turn your faucet on and nothing comes out, it’s possible that your pipe froze. It may not have burst, however, and you’ll want to very carefully attempt to thaw the pipe in hopes that the situation won’t get any worse. Before you do anything, shut off your water line at the main shutoff valve. Then, grab a hair dryer, a heating pad, a space heater, or wrap your pipe in a towel soaked with hot water, and attempt to melt the ice blockage inside the pipe. Turn your faucet on now and then to check. Continue to apply heat until your full water pressure returns. 

Let the BrickKicker Help You Winterize Your Naperville Home 

Now that you know why pipes freeze and how to keep your pipes from freezing, if you need help winter-proofing your home in Chicagoland, reach out to the BrickKicker. We can give your home a thorough inspection and tell you exactly what steps you need to take to keep it in tip-top-shape, and what problems may lie on the horizon. Our phone number is 800-821-1820. In the meantime, explore our blog for other informative reads about home care, including our guide on when to get a chimney inspection!