Archive for October, 2015

How to Easily Winterize the Inside of your Brooklyn Home

Friday, October 30th, 2015
winterize the inside of your Brooklyn home

Winterize the inside of your Brooklyn home this fall.

Fall’s glorious colors, cooler temperatures and delicious comfort foods make the season a favorite among many. But winter’s coming. Enjoy fall’s unique and endearing offerings, but don’t forget to winterize the inside of your Brooklyn home for the upcoming and not-so-endearing season. Get it ready to withstand winter’s freezing temperatures before they arrive. You’ll save yourself a lot of worry and expense.

This checklist will help you winterize the inside of your Brooklyn home.

Home heating system

  1. Checking your Brooklyn home’s heating system by the end of October is ideal. Follow these steps to check if it is working properly:
  • Turn the thermostat up to 80 degrees.
  • Listen for the furnace to turn on. Warm air should start warming up your home in just a few minutes.
  • Turn the thermostat back down to its normal setting if the heating system is working properly.

If it is not working properly, take a look at this gas furnace troubleshooting guide. You may be able to fix it yourself. If not, call a qualified service technician.

  1. Choose to have the furnace checked by a service technician for seasonal maintenance or do it yourself. If you choose to do it yourself, refer to this seasonal furnace maintenance guide to make sure your furnace is running efficiently and safely.
  1. Replace the air filter with a new one. During cold winter months, filters should be checked monthly. Replacing the air filter is easy to do.
  1. Make sure your propane tank or oil furnace is full of fuel to heat your home.
  1. Clear heating vents of debris like dust, bugs, home construction leftovers, mold, toys, food, etc. Yes, you’d be amazed at all that is in your heating vents!
  1. Test for carbon monoxide leaks in your home. Carbon monoxide test badges or alarms are inexpensive to purchase. They can easily detect whether or not this silent killer is in your home.

Home cooling system

  1. The condensing unit of your cooling system needs to be cleaned of dirt and debris. Spray the fan blades and condensing coils with the highest hose pressure you have.
  1. Protect your condensing unit from damage in the winter season. Wet leaves and debris contribute to rusting and freezing of your unit’s internal components. Use a breathable, waterproof cover to protect and extend the life and efficiency of your unit.
  1. If you have window air conditioners, remove and store them for the winter. If they are not removable, use a breathable, waterproof cover as described above.

Chimney and fireplace or wood burning stove

  1. Clear the chimney of nests.
  1. Check the flue to make sure it opens and closes completely. Is it able to be locked in either position?
  1. Make sure the chimney will draw up the fire and smoke properly.
  • Roll up several sheets of newspaper. With the fireplace damper in the open position, light the newspaper in the fireplace. Does the smoke rise up the chimney? If it doesn’t, call a professional in to clean the chimney of obstruction – creosote, ash and debris.
  • How long has it been since you had your chimney cleaned? If the answer is, “Not in a very long time,” or “Never,” call a professional chimney sweep.
  • Inspect the fire brick in the fireplace for open mortar joints. If you find open mortar joints, have them repaired immediately! Open mortar joints can allow a fire to spread into the stud wall behind the fire brick.


  1. Insulate exposed pipes

Exposed water or drain pipes in an uninsulated crawlspace, attic or outside wall are especially vulnerable to freezing. Insulate them with foam insulation at least. Wrap them with electrical heating tape first, follow with insulation. Burst pipes can cause extensive damage making this home repair one of the most expensive.

  1. Eliminate the possibility of exterior pipe bursts
  • Turn off the water supply to exterior faucets inside your Brooklyn home.
  • Drain the water from exterior faucets, also known as hose bibbs or sill-cocks by opening up the exterior faucet. Consider covering hose bibbs with an insulated cover. Always disconnect your garden hoses from the sill-cocks or outside faucets. If you store your garden hoses outside, drain them, too.

If you are leaving town for several months, winter, spring, summer or fall, drain your whole home’s plumbing system. You will avoid costly damage to the inside of your Brooklyn home while no one is home. See how to drain your home’s plumbing system here.

Easy insulation tips to winterize the inside of your Brooklyn home

  1. Insulate your hot water tank with an insulating blanket. You can buy an insulating blanket at the hardware store.
  1. Insulate exterior outlets and switch plates with an inexpensive foam sealing gasket.
  1. Cut a piece of fiberglass insulation to stuff into the fireplace behind the glass doors to block cold air coming that comes down the chimney. Remove the insulation when you use the fireplace.
  1. Save money on your heating bill. Reduce cold air leaks around doors and windows with weatherstripping. Drafty doors and windows raise your heating bill as much as poor insulation in the walls and ceiling do.

So, if you haven’t already started to winterize the inside of your Brooklyn home, put down that pumpkin spice latte. Check your Brooklyn home’s heating system right away. Then move through this checklist to winterize the inside of your Brooklyn home, and save yourself a lot of worry and expense.

Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate. Call (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email, [email protected] for more information about how to winterize the inside of your Brooklyn home this fall.


For You: A Brooklyn Home Fire Prevention Checklist

Friday, October 16th, 2015
Home fire

Testing your smoke alarms every month is an important part of the prevention of a home fire in your Brooklyn home.

A home fire can strike without warning, day or night. A home fire is not subject to a particular season of the year. Are you prepared if a home fire happened in your Brooklyn home? If not, you can be!

October is National Fire Prevention Month, so I visited I found 3 sad home fire statistics:

  •  On average 7 people die every day from a home fire.
  • On average 36 people suffer injuries as a result of home fires every day.
  • Over $7 billion in property damage occurs every year. also states that if a home fire starts in your Brooklyn home, you have only 2 minutes to escape. Can your family safely escape a fire in your home in just 2 minutes? Find out. Religiously implementing the following two steps will keep your family safe if a home fire happens to you:

  1. Plan and practice a 2-minute fire drill with your family twice every year. Knowing and practicing your home fire escape plan regularly can save your lives.
  2. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, in every bedroom and outside every bedroom. Your children need to hear what a smoke alarm sounds like. They should know what to do when a smoke alarm goes off.

Test your home’s smoke alarms every month. Sixty percent of home fire deaths happen in homes that have no smoke alarms or smoke alarms that do not work. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years and never disabled.

Carbon monoxide alarms do not replace smoke alarms. Your home should have both carbon monoxide and smoke alarms. Your family should know the difference between the sounds of each.

My blog post 7 Basics of Home Fire Safety in Brooklyn was written when Brooklyn suffered a great tragedy in March, 2015. It reiterates much of what is mentioned here.

Preparation for the possibility of a home fire in your Brooklyn home is key!

No one wants to encounter a home fire emergency ever! But your best safety measure to take is to prepare as if it were inevitable. When you’re prepared for the possibility, you and your family are less likely to become one of the sad home fire statistics listed above.

The following list is lengthy, but every point is important to prepare your family with in case of a home fire.

  • Start preparing by identifying and eliminating fire hazards from your Brooklyn home.
    • Items that can catch fire easily should be kept at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as a space heater or burners on a stove.
    • Never, ever smoke in bed.
    • Keep matches and lighters out of reach of your children. Talk about the dangers of fire with them on a regular basis.
    • Don’t go to sleep while a portable heater is on. Turn it off when you leave the room or go to bed.
    • Stay in the kitchen whenever the stove is on and/or food is frying, grilling or broiling. If you must leave the kitchen, turn off the stove, even for a short period of time. Faithfully use a timer to remind you that food is cooking, simmering, baking, roasting or boiling.
  • Download this Home Fire Safety Checklist.
  • Delegate responsibilities to every family member in case a fire starts in your home. Teamwork is vital in an emergency. Yes, different types of fires will require different responsibilities. Discuss all the possibilities, what to do and who will do what.
  • Create an escape plan. Everyone should know two ways to escape from each room in your Brooklyn home.
  • Practice your escape plan at least twice a year and at different times of the day. Practice fire drills after waking everyone up to a smoke alarm.
  • Drill this into everyone’s head: “If a fire occurs in our home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL for help.”
  • Tell your family to never open doors that are warm to the touch. Tell them they should use the second way out of that room. If smoke, heat or flames are blocking their way to escape, they should stay in the room with the door closed. If possible, put a wet towel under the door. Then they should call 911, open a window and wave something bright to grab someone’s attention. A flashlight should be used if the home fire strikes at night.
  • Practice low crawling. A fire’s smoke is deadly and rises during a fire.
  • Practice “Stop. Drop. Roll.” If clothes catch fire, stopping, dropping and rolling will smother the fire and save your life.
  • Decide where you will meet once you get out of your Brooklyn home. Your immediate meeting place should be across the street away from the home fire. Have a point of refuge lined up to stay should a home fire displace you and your family.
  • As soon as you get outside to your meeting place, call 911 for help.
  • Time your fire drills. Remember, you have only two minutes to get out of your burning home! Practice until you get out in two minutes or less.
  • Discuss and decide what to do if any of you get separated while escaping a home fire.

Don’t become a sad Brooklyn home fire statistic. Choose to be prepared just in case. I love Brooklyn and care about the safety of our community. If you have any questions about the safety of a home you own or are looking to purchase, call me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate, at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or reach me by email, [email protected].