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When’s the Best Time to Buy a Security System?

home defender systemLet’s be perfectly honest: there really isn’t one perfect time to buy and install a security system in your home. In reality, you can get a great deal on a security system throughout most of the year if you pay attention. However, if you’re wondering about intruder statistics, then that’s another matter. There are peak times for break-ins: they usually coincide with the beginning of the school year, Black Friday, Thanksgiving weekend, and the days after holidays like Hanukkah and Christmas. And besides holidays, it’s also important just to know what’s going on in your town or neighborhood. Here are some of the best times to get a security system:

Watch for Company Promotions

If you’re worried about buying a system during the right time of year because you want to get the best possible price, you need to get online and do some research. Look around the web for some special deals or promotions that different companies have going on. If you notice one company is offering a deal that appeals to you, but you really don’t feel confident in that company, take their offer and go talk to another company. Explain that you’d prefer to have your security system through them, but their competition is offering a better deal. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and the company will match the price of the cheaper option.

Another thing to look for are coupons in the mail. It’s easy to throw these away since you likely receive junk mail day after day, but every once in a while it is worth it to flip through. Security companies commonly advertise this way, and sometimes you can get a great discount by using a coupon that was stuffed into your mailbox.

Pay Attention to the Holidays

Many break-ins occur during the holidays since this is when people typically buy and/or receive expensive gifts. Security companies know this and will sometimes give you a good deal to get your business. They know you’re more likely to consider your home’s security when it’s filled with new gifts than at any other time of the year, so they want you to contract with them while your fear of a break-in is high. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can be used to your advantage. Again, you need to shop around and really do some research to make sure that you find a great deal on a security system. Often, you can get the system installation either free or highly discounted.

Know What’s Happening in Your Neighborhood

Being aware of what’s happening in your neighborhood and community plays a role in your decision to buy and install a security system. Read your neighborhood or town’s newspaper or newsletter, and pay attention to the crime section. If there have been any break-ins, you’ll probably find them reported there. Another good resource is the local news station. If you haven’t already, it is a good idea to follow them on Twitter or Facebook to stay up to date. Most news stations tweet out stories, and a string of burglaries is bound to wind up in your feed if you’re paying attention to what’s going on in your community.

Paying attention to your community and buying a security system before a burglar strikes is one thing, but getting a good deal is another. If there are a lot of break-ins happening in your neighborhood, remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Even if you don’t get a great deal on a security system, it’s better to be protected than run the risk of not installing a system. You don’t know if the burglar could strike again, and you want to help avoid property damage, stolen goods, and harm to your family. Be smart. Pay attention to the world around you, and let your gut determine when it’s the right time to buy.

Remember, there is no real perfect time to buy a security system. The perfect time is anytime before you get burglarized. As long as the system is in place before the danger arises, you have good timing.

Spring Break! How to Help Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Gone

homeSpring break is one of the best times to go on vacation and get away from it all. While enjoying a quick getaway is relaxing, you need to make sure that your house and everything in it are safe. There are many things you can do to help ensure that your home and all of your possessions are safe while you’re gone. Here are ten tips on helping to keep your home safe while you’re off making the most of spring break.

1. Get a House and Pet-Sitter

Having a house sitter is probably the best way to help ensure that your home is safe while you’re gone. If you find someone you can trust, ask them to spend the duration of your trip in your home. Set some guidelines and provide careful directions for any plant or home care. Make it worth their while – give them access to your fridge or pay them — and they will likely do an even better job of taking care of your home than expected.

If you have pets, a house sitter is an especially sound idea. Even if the sitter can’t spend all their time in your home, having someone come by to check on your pet daily may save you some money and provide peace of mind. Boarding can be very expensive for long periods of time and your pet will be less unsettled if someone is in the house with them.

2. Have Someone Come Get Your Mail and Newspaper

A sure sign of someone gone on vacation is the buildup of mail in the mailbox. If a thief sees that someone’s mailbox is full, they know that person isn’t home. This is another reason to hire a house sitter. The sitter can bring in the mail and newspapers as they arrive.

3. Program Your Lights

Before you leave, buy some timers for the lights in your home. A house that looks lived in will be less likely to be broken into. Many modern timers for light switches can be controlled from your smartphone, giving you control wherever you are.

4. Keep the Grass Trimmed

If you would usually cut the grass during the time you’re going to be gone, then you need to have someone stop by and trim the grass. A neighbor or friend will help if you don’t already pay a lawn service. If you do pay a lawn service, make sure they plan to come by during the time you’ll be gone.

5. Lock Windows and Doors

Locking your doors and windows seems obvious, but many people forget these simple steps. Windows are especially easy to forget. No matter where they are on the house (first or second floor) make sure the windows are shut and locked.

6. Keep Specifics Off Social Media

It’s fun to post things about your trip on social media in real time, but it’s a smart idea to keep the pictures and other vacation events quiet until you return. Broadcasting your schedule out to the world will tell the thieves when and where you’ll be while they’re breaking in.

7. Home Security System

Installing a home security system can solve many problems. If you have a monitored security system, you have someone keeping an eye on your home. While this is a big plus, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be safe from all threats. Even if you have a reliable, monitored security system, you need to rely on other measures to stay safe.

8. Let the Police Know

Although this may seem like overkill, notifying the police of your absence isn’t necessarily a bad idea. They may be able to send a patrol car by your house on a regular basis.

9. Remove Your Spare Key

Many people hide a house key outside in case they lose their own key or lock themselves out. That key won’t help you while you’re away, so bring your outdoor spare key indoors and put it away until you return home.

10. Notify Your Landlord

If you rent your home, let your landlord know that you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time. The landlord may be able to drive by every so often and make sure that the house is still safe.

These are some of the things to do before you leave for your spring break vacation. If you prepare ahead of time, you should be all set to go away and enjoy a much-needed holiday.

Three Reasons to Upgrade Your Security System

security systemDo you have a home security system? How long have you had it? What kinds of life changes have occurred since you had it installed? Those life changes—a new job further away, kids, a different financial situation, and so on—typically prompt questions about lifestyle. Part of that discussion should cover home security. You grow and change over the years, so why shouldn’t your home security plan grow with you? Take some time to assess your home and lifestyle and whether your home security is still a good fit for your home and needs. It could be time to consider upgrading your plan. Here are three scenarios when you should consider upgrading your security system.

Financial Situation Has Changed

Let’s say you’ve been promoted (congrats!), or maybe your partner has. Or, one of you has recently taken another job that offers a higher salary than your previous line of work. In any case, now may be a primary time to take inventory of your home security. Now that you have a little more money coming your way every month, you may be looking at your home and thinking about your other financial goals. Now could be the time to install new kitchen cabinets and increase the amount you put away for your kid’s college fund. This is also an ideal time to revisit your home security plan and consider upgrading to a better, updated system. Unless you plan on putting the extra income you’ll be receiving straight into a savings account, your lifestyle will more than likely reflect your new income. This can mean newer belongings, cars, home improvements, and more. When your income increases and your lifestyle reflects it, others will be able to take notice. It’s important to keep your security system up to par in order to help keep your new belongings (as well as your family) safe from harm’s way!

You Have a New Job

Sure, the financial shift has already been discussed – but what about your day-to-day schedule? If you’ve accepted a new position that requires a lot of travel, you might consider upgrading your protection plan to include a smart, bird’s-eye view of your home, no matter where you are. Being gone for several days in a row can signal to burglars that your home is the perfect score. Or maybe your new job—whether it’s in an office or a remote position where you work from home—requires you to purchase work-related equipment that you keep at home and need to protect. Those who work from home often keep nicer computers and equipment, which can become attractive to someone on the prowl. In this case, you might add extra locks to your doors, install motion detectors in rooms with expensive items, and even hide any expensive equipment within closets or in windowless rooms. The main goal would be to help prevent any potential burglars from getting their eyes on what you have.

You’ve Got Little Ones on the Way

When you decide to have a child, there are tons of questions to think about and discuss. “Where do we want to raise our children? How will we give them the best life possible? How can we take extra measures to keep them safe?” One factor that often goes overlooked by new parents is the level of protection they have for their home. Helping to keep them safe and sound should include beefing up your home security so that the (admittedly little) sleep you’ll get as new parents can be worry-free. For new or expecting families, think about installing outdoor lighting, a live camera feed, and motion sensors throughout the house. These are security components that also allow you to keep a close eye on your child. It’s a win-win.

In many cases, upgrading your home security plan is a must in order to help maintain your desired level of comfort and safety. As you move through big life changes, it’s important to keep in mind the safety of you and your family.

Preventing Burglary During a Power Outage

Preventing Burglary During A Power Outage-Blog-DIG-2.19With storms hitting the Midwest and the East Coast this winter, people are likely facing power outages; and the thing to keep in mind is that your typical security measures won’t necessarily be in place when those outages hit. That and power outages mean that burglars may be more likely to come to your house/apartment because they know those security systems are down. Here are a few tips to help keep your belongings and home safe when those power outages occur:

Batten Down the Hatches

By “batten down the hatches,” that obviously means making sure you secure your home physically. Lock your doors—preferably with deadbolts—invest in secure window locks, and contact your neighbors so you can mutually help protect your homes.

Plan for the Outage

When it comes to outages, planning is absolutely crucial. You need to know how you’ll respond both with security as well as with base-level needs. Test your batteries, ready the flashlights, and corral your spare blankets so you stay warm. Once you’ve provided for those needs, you need to start thinking about the fact that, in an outage, you’re more likely to attract burglars.

That means contacting your security provider to figure out what measures they have in place to meet your security needs in the event of an outage.

Contact Your Security Provider

Get in touch with your security provider when you’re expecting bad weather so you know exactly how they can respond if something occurs. If your security provider isn’t capable of addressing this issue, it might be time for you to look into finding a new provider. Let them know you’re worried about how the weather will affect your power, and get a good idea of how they respond to these situations.

Most security providers will install a backup battery so that you can be powered during an emergency. Furthermore, the system should be set up to notify you when the battery is malfunctioning. The system will typically alert you with beeping if this is the case.

Prepare for Power to Return

If you have devices that are plugged into power sources when your power goes out, you run the risk of breaking the circuits once the power returns. So, a good immediate step is to unplug anything that draws power: small appliances, lamps, computer, large appliances—even your refrigerator. Just make sure to keep the door closed as much as possible until the power comes back on. When your power returns, plug in whatever you need. It’s just during the outage that you have to worry.

Know the Technology

A thorough understanding of where your control box is and how to use it helps you immensely in the long run. If you know how the box operates when you’re running on your normal power, then you’ll also know if the box is operating differently due to a power outage. This could mean that the back-up battery isn’t working correctly. Or, it could mean that the issue isn’t the power but rather the device. That’s why it’s important that you know how to operate your control box. If you need instructions, your service provider should be capable of instructing you over the phone, or they can visit your home and show in person.

Install the Sign

It’s simple, sure — but take a moment to really think like a burglar. If there’s a security system sign on your front door or posted in your yard, the less likely burglars will be to even consider invading your home when the power goes out. There’s often the assumption that the security system will likely have a back up. That said, they’d still be at risk of legal authority stepping in when the security provider is contacted.

Power outages affect more than just your appliances. If your security system doesn’t have a back up, you could be leaving yourself unprotected. Keep a back-up plan in place, and talk with your security provider about what they can offer you in the event of a power outage. Preparation is key to helping keep you and your family safe!

Keeping Your Chimney Safe This Winter

chimneyThere are few things better than curling up around a fireplace with a good book during the winter. But what you need to remember is that fire is extremely dangerous and should be used with caution. Part of being cautious is making sure your fireplace and chimney are ready for flames. Many people don’t know that heating equipment—including fireplaces that burn both wood and gas—is the third largest cause of fire deaths in America. A large part of this is due to poor chimney care. If you plan to use your fireplace when the weather is cold, you need to make sure that your chimney is ready to go. Here are tips for helping to keep your chimney safe for the remaining months of winter:

Keep Your Chimney Clean

To help keep your home safe and use your fireplace effectively, you should have your chimney cleaned on a regular basis. Over time, unwanted deposits of flammable materials build up in your fireplace and chimney. Because those deposits are flammable they can cause house fires. Fortunately, having your chimney cleaned regularly will help prevent this from happening in your home. Just remember that when it comes to chimney cleaning, you shouldn’t try to do it yourself. You’ll most likely just make a mess and you might actually get hurt. Hire a company of experts to clean it.

Have Your Chimney Inspected for Cracks and other Problems

Cracked bricks or degraded mortar should be fixed before you light a fire. The structural integrity of your chimney is one of the most important things to think about before you place wood in the fireplace or turn on the gas.

A licensed chimney specialist should come out at least once a year to inspect your chimney for any structural problems. If you’re hiring someone to come out and clean your chimney, you might as well hire a company that can also inspect and repair any structural problems that your chimney has.

Have All Vents Checked

If you have a gas log, you need to have vents on your chimney so that the gas releases will not build up in your home. After a while those vents may be compromised, which can cause dangerous buildup of fumes inside your home. These fumes can cause health problems—and even death—so it’s important to ensure that the vents on your gas fireplace are in proper working order. Have your vents inspected at least once a year by a professional.

For the Outside of Your Home

Chimney safety is about more than just the bricks and mortar. It’s also about the space around the outside of the chimney. You need to make sure that flammable things, such as firewood, are at least 30 feet from your home. The outside of your chimney should be free of leaves, sticks, and pine needles. Although under ideal chimney conditions it shouldn’t matter, it is better to keep the outside of your chimney clear of any flammable debris to help ensure that there will be no house fires.

Prepare the Inside of Your Home for Fires in the Fireplace

The room that the fireplace is in also needs to be prepared. Get a steel screen for the fireplace to keep anything from accidentally getting into the fire and also to catch any sparks or embers that may pop out of the fireplace. Also, make sure to store extra wood and kindling at a safe distance from the fireplace.

If you have young children in your home, take time to educate them on fire safety and tell them to alert you if they see anything amiss. Having a fire in your home’s fireplace can be a great memory for your children, but you need to make sure that everything is ready for a safe and warm night of fun. You want the flames to stay where they’re supposed to.

So, before you settle in for a night in front of the fire, call professionals to inspect and clean your chimney and check the integrity of its structure. A clean and clear chimney combined with other fire safety measures will help ensure that you and your family will have a warm and safe winter.

Who to Put on Your Home Security Contact List

rolodexWhen you’re filling out paperwork for your job, your medical office, or your security provider, you’re typically asked to provide a contact person. We all know these people are the ones who should be called in the case of an emergency or when someone is trying to get a hold of you and can’t seem to reach you. It’s usually pretty easy to pinpoint the designated contact to put down—spouse, sibling, parent—but when it comes to filling out your contact list for your home security provider, you should give it a little more thought.

Determining Who Makes the Cut

Your home security system is intended to give you a feeling of, well… security! That being said, make your contact person someone that you can trust. If you’re married or co-occupying a space, it’ll make the most sense to put both your name and your partner or roommate’s name down. In the event of a security breach, assign one main contact for the security provider to call first. The other occupant should be contacted second. Of course, you should also consider building a list of trusted friends and family that can be contacted in the event that you and/or your roommate or partner cannot.

After the initial level of contacts—people who live in the house—consider those who live nearby. It wouldn’t make much sense to list a sibling who lives in the next state over as your emergency contact. They won’t be in range to make much of a difference should a serious security breach occur. If you have a close friend or neighbor that you can trust, they might be the best option for the next-of-line contact on your list.

Having a security breach can mean something as simple as a pet overreacting to a passing car or heavy winds setting off a sensor. When a security sensor goes off and the provider looks at the list, having someone within close range to your house to take a quick look could really make the difference in the event that something serious does happen. They can confirm whether it was a break-in or a faulty sensor.

Ask Before Giving Out Their Information

Before you put someone down on your contact list, you should talk to them about it first. Sure, if it’s somebody close to you, they’ll likely give the go-ahead; but having a discussion about it is courteous. Tell them why you’re asking for their information as a contact, and talk them through what you’d want them to do if and when your home security provider ever contacts them. If it’s a trusted neighbor, you might ask that they take a quick look around the house to gauge whether there is, in fact, a break-in occurring or if it looks like a sensor was triggered by accident.

Another reason to ask beforehand is that some folks wish to remain more private about their information and aren’t comfortable or willing to give that out to a third party. In addition, maybe a neighbor or friend might feel uncomfortable being assigned a contact person, which is totally understandable. It may give them a sense of added pressure.

Home security is a whole different ballgame than a doctor’s office. When you’re drafting your contact list, be sure to think carefully about the best people to add to the list. Talk with them beforehand so that they know, understand, and agree to be added to the list. They need to be people you depend on.

Preventing Frozen Pipes When You’re on Vacation

Untitled1Water damage is one of the most common homeowner insurance claims. Often, frozen pipes lead to leaks, which will cause all kinds of water damage in your home. If you’re on vacation during the winter and this happens, the water damage can become extremely severe as it goes unchecked for days or even weeks. While it isn’t always practical to monitor your home while you’re away, there are things you can do to help keep your home’s pipes from freezing. Here are some tips:

Check for Leaks Before You Leave

Before you leave for your vacation, do a visual inspection of your pipes. Are there any leaks or corroded areas? You might have to find the access panel to your crawlspace or poke your head around in your basement. Bring a flashlight and look for anything that looks out of place, damaged, or wet. You don’t have to be a plumber to notice a leaking pipe.

If you do see a leak or spot a place with a lot of corrosion or rust, contact a plumber before you leave. A visit from a plumber could save you lots of money and plenty of headaches.

Check the Hoses on Appliances

Look at the hoses on your fridge, your washing machine, and any other appliances that have a water line attached to them. The hoses can easily freeze, burst, and cause all kinds of water damage. Additionally, you’ll want to look for leaky fittings or any loose connections. If you notice any leaking or poor fittings, consider either buying new fittings or replacing the entire hose.

Leave Cupboards Open

Despite what some people believe, the space inside your cupboards is not heated. Sure, it might get some of the heat from your home, but the cupboards will shut out most of the hot air. Before you leave for your vacation, it’s a good idea to open the cupboards around the sink and let the air from the house warm the pipes.

Add Insulation to Your Pipes

One way to help keep your pipes warm is to insulate them, which can be purchased at your local hardware store. If you don’t feel like crawling around in your crawlspace or working in your basement, you should be able to hire someone to add insulation to your pipes for you.

Reach Out to a Friend

One of the best ways to help ensure that your home is safe is to have a friend stop by while you’re on vacation. While they’re there, they can check to make sure the pipes aren’t frozen and that the rest of your house is still safe and locked up. Having a friend stop by is also a good idea because if something does go wrong, they will be able to notify you and do something about it before the damage gets to be too much.

Turn Off Your Water

Although you don’t have to do this for a weekend getaway, it might not be a bad idea to turn off your water at the main and drain your pipes of water. This doesn’t take very long, and will help ensure that no matter how cold it gets, you won’t have any problems with your pipes freezing. If you choose to turn off the water to your house, make sure that all of the water is drained from the pipes. Turn on all faucets and hoses and let all the water that’s currently in the pipes drain out.

Have Your Sump Pump Checked

If you choose not to turn off your water while you’re gone, you need to have your sump pump checked before you leave. The sump pump is designed to pump water out of the basement or crawlspace of your home. If there is a leak somewhere in your house, it’s probable that the water will collect in one of those places. A properly functioning sump pump will keep your basement from filling with water and keep the water damage to a minimum.

There are many things you can do to help make sure that your pipes don’t freeze and that your home is safe and secure while you’re away on your winter vacation. If you make an effort before you leave to take care of your pipes, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Is an Electronic Lock Right for My Home?

lockYou know how you have to find a place to tuck your keys away when you go out for a run? If you install an electronic lock, the days of tucking your house key into a small pocket in your gym shorts, hiding it in your shoe, or having a key hidden outdoors are over. This is just one of the small perks of an electronic door lock. But while electronic locks are useful, they aren’t necessarily right for everyone. Here are some things to consider when considering installing electronic door locks in your home:

Reasons You Should Consider an Electronic Door Lock

There are many reasons to consider having an electronic door lock. You might have a housekeeper, friends and family that visit often, or you might just be forgetful and leave your keys behind. All of these scenarios are good reasons to get an electronic door lock. Because many electronic locks can sync with your smartphone, you can even unlock or lock your house remotely anywhere and at any time. With an electronic door lock, let anyone you want into your home, and keep out the people you don’t want.

To Go Keyless or Not?

When choosing an electronic lock, you can either install one that has an electronic lock and a key slot, or a lock that is strictly an electronic lock. Many people like to have a key as a backup in case the power goes out; but others seem to think that it’s better to have some other type of power source, or another way of getting into the home.

Keypad or No Keypad?

Many electronic door locks have a keypad or a touch screen so that you can punch in a code to enter the house. This is extremely convenient, but if you have buttons on the door lock, the buttons you press most often will begin to wear out over time. That will make it obvious what the code is. To combat this, you can either opt for a door lock that has a touch screen, or you can change up your master code every once in a while.

Have Several Codes

In addition to changing your code often, you should give certain individuals their own special code. These people can be your housekeeper, close friends and family, or a cable installer. It’s entirely up to you! If everyone has their own code, you’ll be able to track who has come and gone. That and if someone uses a code to break in and steal something, you’ll know who’s responsible for either stealing or who let the code slip to the burglar.

Mobile Phone Access

Electronic door locks are commonly linked to your smartphone. This allows you to monitor who comes and goes, and gives you the ability to lock or unlock your house no matter where you are. You can even let people into your home without giving them a code and lock the house after they leave.

Pair an Electronic Lock with a Security System

An electronic lock should only be one component of your security efforts. An electronic lock works best when it is paired, and in some cases, integrated with your home security system. Don’t just buy an electronic lock and assume that your home is safe. The electronic lock is just part of the equation. Installing a security system can help give you the peace of mind that your home will remain safe even if someone is able to bypass your door lock.

Why Some People Don’t Want an Electronic Door Lock

While many people are interested in electronic door locks, others would never install one on their home. It really depends on someone’s personal situation. If you’re the only person who really comes and goes from your home often, you probably don’t need an electronic lock.

Contacting a security company is a perfect way to learn more about electronic locks and the options you have to choose from. And if you’re still unsure as to whether or not you want an electronic door lock, someone from the security company will be able to assess your home and provide valuable suggestions.

Finding a Reliable Carbon Monoxide Detector

carbon monoxide detectorCarbon monoxide is a known killer. While you might have a simple carbon monoxide detector plugged into a wall somewhere in your home, it’s important that you actually know what carbon monoxide is, where it comes from, and how to find the best detector for it.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide has no smell, consistency, or visual properties at all. It can creep into your body unnoticed and replace the oxygen, which ultimately suffocates your vital organs. In most cases, people pass out during carbon monoxide poisoning before anything very noticeable occurs. But symptoms can include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and chest pain. If you are in an indoor space and you begin to feel these symptoms come seemingly out of nowhere, move outside into fresh air and call 911 immediately.

Where Does It Come From?

Carbon monoxide is a relatively common gas that results from the incomplete burning of natural gas, such as gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, coal, or wood. If you have a gas furnace or gas-powered kitchen appliances, you should always be on the lookout for any leaks. Furnaces and appliances are the most common culprits when it comes to carbon monoxide leaks or poisoning in a home or apartment. Most modern homes and apartment buildings rely on electric heating and appliances, so you have less to worry about if you live in one of them. However, some older homes and apartments still use gas lines and appliances in the home.

Finding the Right Detector

Regardless of whether your home has gas appliances & heating or electric, increased carbon monoxide levels should still be a concern. Installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home will help ensure your air quality is constantly monitored and that you will be alerted to any changes. Even if you live in a home heated by an electric furnace and full of electric appliances, you should install a carbon monoxide detector. Leaks from gas mains can compromise your home and your family — even if your house isn’t connected to them.

Look for detectors that plug into and are powered by wall outlets. Place these throughout your home: living room, kitchen and bedrooms. These will operate properly through their life cycle, which usually lasts between four to five years or so. If you decide to purchase and use this kind of detector, make sure it has an “end of life” alert function that will let you know when the device itself is on its last leg. Make sure you check on it from time to time just to make sure it’s working, as it should.

When your home does use a gas stove and/or furnace, installing heavier-duty carbon monoxide detectors can mean the difference between silently falling victim and getting out to safe, fresh air. This means taking extra measures to ensure your carbon monoxide detectors are high functioning and kept up-to-date. We suggest placing multiple detectors in the main rooms of the house including: the kitchen, the living room, bedrooms, and close to any gas outlets. The best detectors will have a display that can read levels of carbon monoxide in the air, have test buttons, and more.

Some carbon monoxide detectors rely on batteries to operate. These probably aren’t always your best option, since batteries do die, and you may forget to replace them. In that case, you and your family are at risk. It’s better to invest in higher quality detectors that you can count on to alert you to anything that’s amiss.

Carbon monoxide is nothing to fool around with. Don’t forgo detectors in a bid to save money or because you simply can’t be bothered. Look for detectors that fit your home and that offer easy-to-read features that will tell you about the carbon monoxide levels in the air.

5 Easy Ways to Create a Cleaning Schedule

mopWhether you’re a new homeowner or you’ve been paying a mortgage for twenty years, household maintenance is a regular part of life. Long-time homeowners likely have a maintenance schedule in mind, be it stored in spreadsheets or memory banks; but new homeowners could use a leg up on plotting out what to do in their homes and when to do it. Below, you’ll find tips and tricks to help you organize your cleaning and maintenance schedule so that you can preserve and improve the look of your home while creating a comfortable environment for you and your family.

1. What Season Is Coming Up?

Many homes require certain changes or preparations for the changing seasons. For example, you may need to assess the insulation on your water pipes and add more if it’s old and crumbling. Without insulation, you run the risk of ending up with frozen or burst pipes – and fixing such issues costs far more than the time and investment of insulation. To remember what maintenance needs to be done, think about the next season that’s approaching and begin making necessary changes and performing regular upkeep. Other common seasonal tasks include washing windows, checking insulation in the attic, sealing windows in plastic, caulking up any holes or seams where air may escape, and switching out your HVAC filter.

2. Create Lists

Creating lists makes it easy for you to remember tasks — especially if you divide the lists into seasons to match up with the ideas in the last section. For each season, draft up a list of regular maintenance tasks as well as things you’d like to get done (like repaint the living room). This will give you a clear-cut plan of action throughout the year for keeping up with everything.

3. Keep a Detailed Spreadsheet of Dates

By this, we simply mean to keep a spreadsheet where you can log when you’ve performed maintenance and have replaced certain parts of various household features. Enter things like when you’ve changed the HVAC filter and when it will be up for another replacement. Include other things like when you last had the chimney and fireplace inspected—if applicable—the carpets professionally deep cleaned, or the batteries changed in the smoke detectors. This allows you to track what you do each year and will remind you when to perform that task again.

4. Delegating Tasks Out Among Everyone

Big or small, there’s almost always a lot to do in any house. Keeping on top of everything and remembering what needs to be done can be tricky. Don’t try to tackle everything yourself. Instead: divide and conquer. Take some time, and draft up a list of common household maintenance tasks, and then begin to divvy it up among your family. Give some lighter, easier things to the kids (think unloading the dishwasher and dusting), and leave the big maintenance tasks to the adults. By delegating tasks this way, each person is responsible for a set amount of chores and maintenance, thereby lessening the amount of things that each person needs to remember.

5. Defining Standards

Whether you like it or not, everyone has their own standards for cleaning and maintenance. While one person will wipe down kitchen counters and sweep the floor once a day, another may be satisfied with wiping things down once a week. Everyone has different standards for different reasons. Now, you might disagree on what clean looks like, but you should define standards for cleanliness and household maintenance as a group to make sure that everyone is on the same page and ready to do their tasks.

As a new homeowner, it might feel like you’re overwhelmed with all the things that require maintenance in your house. If, however, you do a bit of planning (and you stick to the plan), that maintenance should become easier with time. One of the biggest challenges regarding maintenance is simply knowing where to start. If you take the time to map out what your tasks are and how they’ll get done, you’re already in a far better spot than when you started.