Smoke Alarms Save Lives!

“Fire death rate in homes with working smoke alarms is 51% less than the rate for homes without this protection,” says American Red Cross. This means that having a smoke alarm could cut your chances of dying in a fire in half.* Get a jump on the 2016 Fire Safety week by checking your smoke alarms this weekend and if you do not have any installed, get some installed now. Your smoke alarm should be checked monthly and some even believe that they should be checked weekly. This might seem like a hassle, but if your smoke alarm does not work it could mean the loss of your life or your family’s lives.

Start by checking your smoke alarms on Saturday or Sunday this week. Add this date to your phone and place a reminder. Maybe you want to begin by having your reminder set to quarterly or monthly. Whatever you do, get it on your calendar!


Is it true that pushing the test button is sufficient?

NO! This is the easiest thing to do and it will test to see if the alarm “sound” is working, but it does not test to see if the smoke sensor is working.

There is an easy ways to check your smoke alarm sensors.
The safest method of testing your smoke alarm is to purchase an aerosol can, at your local hardware store, that is specifically designed for testing smoke alarms. This “fake smoke” simulates smoke and provides a true sensor text. In addition, the aerosol can method allows you to reach alarms high on your ceiling to be tested while you are firmly planted on the floor. If the simulated smoke does not set off the alarm, trying placing the old batteries with brand new batteries and run the test again. If new batteries do not activate the alarm then you likely need a new smoke alarm.

Home Builders for Fire Safety!

The Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield Charitable Foundation, in cooperation with four HBA Associate Members, will be donating more than 800 smoke alarms to local fire departments on Tuesday September 27th. These fire departments will be distributing the smoke alarms out to homes in need of this life saving device.

Fire safety week is October 9-15, 2016. Add to your calendar and check your alarms.

NOTES: There are different types of smoke alarms (ionization and photoelectric) that detect smoke and fire particles differently and leading officials state that both should be installed in your home. It is recommended, by the NFPA, that smoke alarms be installed in every bedroom and outside of sleeping areas, as well as in basements and every level of your home. Smoke alarms do not last forever and should be replaced every 5 to 10 years. For more on smoke alarm installation and maintenance, go to American Red Cross.

Sources: *American Red Cross and the National Fire Protection Association.


HVAC, Attic Leaks & Insulation – Winterization Part 3



Increase positive airflow, reduce the draft, seal areas where water can enter your home and fluff up your insulation for winter. Quick tips to prepare your home for winter.


  • It is best to replace filters every quarter (3 months) to allow maximum airflow. Enough dust can build up in three to four months that can reduce the blower productivity as well as add stress to your heating system.
  • Place a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including basements. Replace detectors every five to six years.
  • When you know that your air conditioner will not be used for an extended period of time, consider placing a cover over your unit to protect it from the elements. Be sure to check under the cover a few times during the winter as critters sometimes try to make it their home. Do not forget to remove the cover before you kick on the air conditioning.

Attic & Roof

  • The attic is a great place to save energy and add comfort to your home. Sealing your attic helps stop major air leaks and maintain the desired temperature inside your home. Combined with proper insulation, air sealing can help to avoid formation of winter ice dams. Seal any gaps or cracks with caulk or spray foam. If it is an area that could allow water to enter your attic, use a silicone caulk. As a general rule, use caulk for anything ¼ inch or smaller.
  • When it comes to your roof, the easiest and safest method of check shingles for damage or wear and tear is with a pair of binoculars. If you see any areas that seem abnormal, call a professional to take a closer look.

Insulate & Seal

  • Electrical outlets are often an overlooked area where cold air sneaks into your home. Insulate behind all electrical outlet wall plates, especially those on the windy side of your home. In most cases, spray foam or caulk should do the trick.
  • In crawlspaces and exterior walls look for areas that might allow cold air to rush in on a breezy day. It does not take much more than a crack to fill your crawlspace with cold air and create a draft in your home. Spray foam is a good way to seal off small cracks or gaps. In addition, you might consider insulating between the floor joists in your crawlspace. It is recommended that you contact a professional when adding insulation, especially if your crawl space is tight quarters.
  • When it comes to your attic, it is best to have a quality insured home professional assess whether you need additional insulation. Fiberglass and cellulose can compact over time reducing the R-value and what might look okay to a untrained eye could be an area of heat loss that a little insulation would resolve. Fiberglass and cellulose Insulation are like a fluffy coat that holds the heat into your home. When compacted the fluffy coat effect is reduced.


  • Uncover south facing windows to let the light shine in. Not only does this brighten things up during a season of reduced light, but it will also help heat your home on those cold sunny days.

When in doubt about anything home related, it is always best to contact a quality insured home professional.

See more Millstone Custom Home Tips in our weekly blog, send us a message or give us a call to discuss anything about your home or future home.

Millstone Custom Homes and Renovations – Welcome Home To Custom Quality.



Chimney Balloon, Faucets, Dead Patches – Winterization Part 2


If you cleaned out your gutters, fertilized your lawn and caulked your window trim last week, then you are ready for Part 2 of Home Winterization – Facing the Cold Before it Hits.

Let’s jump right in and cover your chimney – almost literally.

  • Chimney Heat Loss
    If you are not using  your fireplace, you need to be aware of how heat can escape right up through your chimney. Dampers warp and corrode, which not only allows heat to exit, but the cold will sneak in as well. There are multiple ways to reduce this heat and cold transfer and a chimney balloon is good and inexpensive start that can be found at your local hardware store or online. The balloon is inflated past the dampers and that’s all there is to it. Chimney balloons also help prevent debris from accumulating on hearths. If you utilize your fireplace on a regular basis, this tip will not apply as well to you, but something to note when your fireplace is not in use. Of course, don’t forget to remove the balloon before using  your fireplace.
  • Outdoor Faucets
    Disconnect and store your garden hoses away for the winter. This is a simple, yet often overlooked aspect of winterization. If your home has a separate shut-off valve for your exterior faucets, turn it off and drain the remaining water from your faucets. If you have a sprinkler systems, these need to be turned off and drained as well. A pipe burst can result in massive damage to your home. Anywhere cold air makes contact with pipes could allow for them to freeze. Insulate your pipes and keep your home above 55º as an additional measure to help prevent freezing. If you suspect that a pipe is frozen, it will need to be slowly thawed. Best solution is to call a professional in the case of frozen pipes.
  • Dead Patches
    Fall is a perfect time to repair any dead patches or bald spots in your yard. There are lawn repair mixtures available that contains fertilizer, mulch and grass seed. First, loosen up the soil with a rake and then spread a generous layer of the mixture over the balding area. The mixture then needs to be pressed down lightly followed by a thorough watering. Follow instructions on the repair mixture bag or consult a lawn care specialist. Autumn is also a great time to take care of weeds, fertilize your entire lawn and aerate the soil.

BONUS – Don’t forget to reverse the direction on your ceiling fans. In the summer they should rotate counterclockwise pushing air toward the floor while in the winter the air should flow upward and out to redistribute warm air.

Peak into next week – HVAC, attic leaks & insulation.

See more Millstone Custom Home Tips in our weekly blog, send us a message or give us a call to discuss anything about your home or future home.

Millstone Custom Homes and Renovations – Welcome Home To Custom Quality.



Home Winterization – Facing the Cold Before it Hits – Part 1


When faced with the task of preparing your home for winter the list becomes so long that most people hide under the covers and pretend it will all work itself out. Or, like some homeowners, you might not even be aware that a home needs extra winterization care. Eventually, what you don’t take care of will cost you in comfort and the pocket book.

Millstone Custom Homes & Renovations will be providing a series of simple tips to help you prepare your home for winter. If you tackle a few each week you will be well prepared for the cold.


Start with outside preparation because once the temperature drops you will find it harder to talk yourself into dealing with things out in the cold.

  • Clean out your gutters and drains and install a leaf guard. If you already have a leaf guard this task is much less taxing. Backed up gutters can create many problems once water begins to freeze. The biggest issue that can arise is ice build up, or ice dams, that causes water to drain back into your home.
  • Fertilizing your lawn in the fall will help your grass green up earlier and be nice a plush in the spring. Seek advice from a lawn-care specialist to determine what fertilizer and how much for your type of grass. This is a simple project that pays off in the form of a beautiful spring lawn.
  • Caulk both sides of your trim around your windows and any cracks that might let the cold air in. While you have the caulking gun out, you might look for cracks in your foundation and do some caulking around the inside of your windows as well. Sealing your windows will reduce draft and your utility bill.

BONUS Drain fuel from lawnmowers and other gas powered machines that will not be used over the winter. A fuel preservative is an alternative for some machines, but be sure to do your research and follow instructions.

Peek into next week – Chimney balloon, faucets, repair dead patches.

See more Millstone Custom Home Tips in our weekly blog, send us a message or give us a call to discuss anything about your home or future home.

Millstone Custom Homes and Renovations – Welcome Home To Custom Quality.