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The purpose of this article is two fold. First we would like you to take measures to keep your garage free from fire. Fortunately, there are ways this can be done, some of which are described below. Secondly, garage fires do happen, and we’d like you to make sure that a fire cannot not easily spread to the rest of your house. While you can perform many of the recommendations in this article yourself, it is a good idea to hire Acer Home Inspections to make sure your home is safe from a garage fire.

Why do many garages pose a fire hazard?

  • Where are you most likely to do any welding, or any work on your car? These activities require working with all sorts of flammable materials.
  • Water heaters and boilers are usually stored in garages, and they can create sparks that may ignite fumes or fluids. Car batteries, too, will spark under certain conditions.
  • Oil and gasoline can drip from cars. These fluids may collect unnoticed and eventually ignite, given the proper conditions.
  • Flammable liquids, such as gasoline, motor oil and paint are commonly stored in garages. Some other examples are brake fluid, varnish, paint thinner and lighter fluid.
Unfinished Firewall

This Photo is an example of a firewall that was never completed.



If there is a door that connects the garage to the living area, consider the following:

  • Do not install a pet door in the door! Flames can more easily spread into the living area through a pet door, especially if it’s made of plastic.
  • Does the door have a window? Acer Home Inspections can inspect the window to tell if it’s fire-rated.
  • The door should be self-closing. While it may be inconvenient, especially while carrying groceries into the house from the car, doors should be self-closing. You never know when a fire will happen, and it would be unfortunate to accidentally leave the door open while a fire is starting in the garage.
  • Check the joints and open spaces around the door. Are they tightly sealed? Any openings at all can allow dangerous fumes, such as carbon monoxide or gasoline vapor, to enter the living area. Acer Home Inspections can recommend ways to seal the door so that fumes cannot enter the living area.
Pet Doors leading into a garage is a fire hazzard.

Pet Doors leading into a garage is a fire hazard.

Concerning items placed on the floor, you should check for the following:

  • Store your flammable liquids in clearly labeled, self-closing containers, and only in small amounts. Keep them away from heaters, appliances, pilot lights and other sources of heat or flame.
  • Never store propane tanks indoors. If they catch fire, they can explode. Propane tanks are sturdy enough to be stored outdoors.
In summary, there are plenty of things that you can do to prevent garage fires from spreading to the rest of the house, or to keep them from starting in the first place. However, it is highly recommended that you have your garage periodically examined by Acer Home Inspections

Have you ever noticed a smell in your kitchen, symptoms and just not been able to locate the source? Check your kitchen sink! Cleaning a garbage disposal or drain is very simple, and a great way to keep your drain clean and smelling fresh. There are multiple ways to use ingredients you might have at home already.


#1 Ice and Vinegar

It is a good idea to keep the ice in your freezer fresh by emptying out the ice cube holder. When you dump the ice into the sink, use a wooden spoon to push it into the disposal, add a cup or two of vinegar and turn on the garbage disposal.  As it runs, add some water to make a “vinegar slushy”. As the ice breaks up, it grabs food particles and cleans the unit while the vinegar kills bacteria.


#2 Oranges, Lemons and Limes, Oh My!

If you have some fruit that is getting a little soft, instead of throwing it away use it to clean. You can squeeze citrus fruits such as lemon, lime, or oranges to make the drain smell better. Many name brand cleaners have citrus in them to make them smell better and more attractive to customers.

Orange peels work great for polishing a stainless steel sink. The peels are abrasive but gentle and polish the metal, leaving it smelling great.


#3 Baking Soda and Vinegar

As you might remember from when you were a kid, baking soda and vinegar make a great volcano! Pour a liberal amount of baking soda down the drain and add vinegar until the volcano erupts back into your sink. The reaction of the two ingredients can clean out the drain and leave it smelling better.


If you have a septic system where you live, a dish disposal is not recommended. Adding excess waste from a garbage disposal is harder on any drain system and can add extra cost in maintenance with a septic system.


There have been radio ads promoting DIY Radon Test Kits. We get asked often about what the DIY results look like and why to use our Radon testing service.

Business owner, physician Aaron Bye, pills has attended classes on Radon through the University of Minnesota and passed tests to become NRPP Certified. Acer goes beyond a DIY test, in addition to the results we will help guide you on what action needs to be taken, if any. Acer will personalize the report based on the home and results of the test. In the event that mitigation is recommended we will help you find a qualified mitigation company.

Acer Home Inspections uses a Continuous Radon Monitor (CRM) giving us the ability to get results just 48 hours after the start of the test. With a DIY kit it can take between 7-14 days from the start of the test until you receive the results. To demonstrate the difference between our Radon testing service and a DIY kit below is our example started on January 29th.

January 29th  10pm

Both tests were started within 1 foot of each other in the basement.

CRM-The Continuous Radon Monitor will test for 48 hours and provide 49 data points.

DIY Kit-A 72 hour test that will be mailed in for lab analysis (72 hours is the minimum time allowed for accurate results on a DIY test)

Continuous Radon Monitor

Continuous Radon Monitor

Do It Yourself Kit

Do It Yourself Kit

January 30th

Both tests are in progress

January 31st

CRM- Test ended and results were retrieved and reported

DIY Kit- Still waiting for 72 hour minimum

CRM result pages side by side

These are the two main pages you get from Acer Home Inspections. The 1st page is a summary of the results and any action suggested customized for your home. The Second page is direct information from the test with a graph of the radon level each hour in your home.


February 1st

DIY kit- Test pouch was taken down, all needed times were recorded and mailed in.

February 2nd

DIY-Waiting for results

February 3rd

DIY-Waiting for results

February 4th

DIY-Waiting for results

February 5th

DIY-Wondering when I will get my results

February 6th

DIY-Starting to think they will never be done!

February 7th 4pm

DIY Kit- Test results were emailed

Bye 1-29-14Self

Page#1 gives you the average level of Radon for the duration of the test. Page #2 has general information on radon testing.


In conclusion both tests were performed in compliance with EPA standards and completed by a certified Radon professional. The measurement readings were within an acceptable margin of .1 pCi/L. The CRM gives us 49 data points while the DIY kit provides only one average number. Our CRM unit took just 48 hours to get the results. The DIY kit took 210 hours. Not all home inspectors use a CRM to conduct a Radon test but at Acer we feel time is important.




Ever wonder why the outlets in your kitchen and bathrooms are different than the rest of your rooms? The use of water in bathrooms and kitchens make it more likely to receive an electrical shock. GFCI outlets are designed to provide protection in these conditions.

What is a GFCI?

A ground-fault circuit interrupter, viagra or GFCI, is a device used in electrical wiring to disconnect a circuit when unbalanced current is detected between an energized conductor and a neutral return conductor.  Such an imbalance is sometimes caused by current “leaking” through a person who is simultaneously in contact with a ground and an energized part of the circuit, which could result in lethal shock.  GFCIs are designed to provide protection in such a situation.

In the United States it is estimated that about 300 deaths by electrocution occur every year.  In order to mitigate the possibility of injury or fatality from electric shock the use of GFCIs has been adopted in new construction and recommended as an upgrade in older construction.

 Shock from plug

NEC Requirements for GFCIs

National Electric Code (NEC) started requiring GFCI for very specific applications starting in 1968. Since then they have added other areas and made some exceptions to improve the safety of our homes and work places.

Testing Receptacle-Type GFCIs

Receptacle-type GFCIs are currently designed to allow for safe and easy testing that can be performed without any professional or technical knowledge of electricity.  GFCIs should be tested right after installation to make sure they are working properly and protecting the circuit.  They should also be tested once a month to make sure they are working properly and are providing protection from fatal shock.


To test the receptacle GFCI, first plug a nightlight or lamp into the outlet. The light should be on.  Then press the “TEST” button on the GFCI. The “RESET” button should pop out, and the light should turn off.


If the “RESET” button pops out but the light does not turn off, the GFCI has been improperly wired. Contact an electrician to correct the wiring errors.


If the “RESET” button does not pop out, the GFCI is defective and should be replaced.

If the GFCI is functioning properly and the lamp turns off, press the “RESET” button to restore power to the outlet.


Why Test my GFCI outlets?

GFCI outlets wear out and can function as an outlet but not trip when needed. Even new outlets out of the box have been known to not work correctly.  Testing them on a regular basis will ensure that you know they are working correctly.

Take 5 minutes and test your outlets.


The winter holidays are a time for celebration, and that means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire and accidents. InterNACHI recommends that you follow these guidelines to help make your holiday season safer and more enjoyable.
Holiday Lighting
  • Use caution with holiday decorations and, whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant and non-combustible materials.
  • Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings, and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. If you have any questions about electrical safety, ask an InterNACHI inspector during your next scheduled inspection. Do not overload extension cords.
  • Don’t mount lights in any way that can damage the cord’s wire insulation.  To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples–don’t use nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
  • Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground-fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
  • Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel and artificial icicles of plastic and non-leaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp and breakable, and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children.
  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy and food that may tempt a young child to put them in his mouth.
Holiday Entertaining
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S.  When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
  • Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays, and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet).
  • Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.

  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “fire-resistant.”
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
  • Make sure the base is steady so the tree won’t tip over easily.

  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
  • Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

Toys and Ornaments
  • Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age. Some toys designed for older children might be dangerous for younger children.
  • Electric toys should be UL/FM approved.
  • Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords, and parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children.
  • Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted with lead paint out of the reach of small children and pets.
Children and Pets
  • Poinsettias are known to be poisonous to humans and animals, so keep them well out of reach, or avoid having them.
  • Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child’s reach.
  • Avoid using tinsel. It can fall on the floor and a curious child or pet may eat it. This can cause anything from mild distress to death.
  • Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7 inches. A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around their neck and choke.
  • Avoid mittens with strings for children. The string can get tangled around the child’s neck and cause them to choke. It is easier to replace a mitten than a child.
  • Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended.
  • Store scissors and any sharp objects that you use to wrap presents out of your child’s reach.
  • Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations, such as candy canes, gingerbread men, and mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards.
  • Use your home burglar alarm system.
  • If you plan to travel for the holidays, don’t discuss your plans with strangers.
  • Have a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home.


Aaron Bye 
Acer Home Inspections