Archive for October, 2009

October: Storm Protection Tips

Posted on 01 October 2009 | Category: Tips


April showers might bring May flowers, but October’s blustery fall storms can challenge and sometimes overwhelm the watershed system of even the best-protected homes. In the Chicago area, most basement flooding is the result of these sudden water events.

Get Dwell recommends your to-do list this month includes some storm-proofing steps that will help keep your home high and dry when the weather turns nasty.

October To-Dos:

Evaluate external watershed system
Inspect chimney cap, roof, gutters and downspout system, and foundation/grade distribution for any signs of weakness or failures.

Protect your basement’s weaknesses
Every basement has its weaknesses. For example, a summer’s worth of detritus and fall leaves can clog window wells and below-grade drainage systems, so this is a good time to clean them of debris. Also, ensure that below- grade drains near stairs, doors and entryways are functioning correctly. Just having improper drain caps can lead to a lot of serious issues that could have easily been avoided.

Prepare for fall winds
Look for loose items on house (siding, shutters, etc) and check exterior structures, fences and gates. Pay special attention to tree branches over house that might show signs of weakness or previous damage.  In a storm, they can cause catastrophic damage.

General exterior end-of-season repairs and maintenance
The end of September is a good time to do final sealing of your home’s exterior, one that will last the entire Chicago winter. Depending on the type of home you have, these last warm days are a good time to check brick mortar, put on a protective coat of paint and caulk any gaps that might let in cold or rain. In addition, make sure storm windows are ready for the coming cold. The end of October can be chilly — sometimes too chilly to accomplish outdoor winterizing projects. So plan ahead.

Have a question? Need exterior repairs or maintenance done before the Chicago cold arrives? Call Get Dwell. We’ll help ensure your house stays dry and cozy whatever the weather.

Project of the Month: Lakeside Cabana

Posted on 01 October 2009 | Category: Featured Projects


A homeowner with lakeside property on the North Shore recently approached Get Dwell with a request. They wanted to build a cabana able to store items like rafts, lifejackets, umbrellas and chairs, but were unhappy with the off-the-shelf, do-it-yourself solutions they’d seen in the big-box stores. They wanted a custom structure that matched the quality and beauty of their home site, but could be built on a fixed budget.

Get Dwell’s Greg Wisinski, the project’s manager, sketched out plans for timeless-looking cedar structure of about 80 square feet. Greg felt a cedar exterior would be able to stand up to the exposed lakeside environment the cabana would face, and would weather to blend in with its surroundings over time.

storageTo meet the budget, Greg used treated lumber to frame the structure and broader cedar shingles that were more expensive than narrower ones but were higher quality and required less man-hours to install. To maximize storage space, he allowed for an offset door and generous, widely space shelves.

A particular highlight for Greg was the building and installation of the cabana’s cedar door. For many reasons, conventionally nailed doors have a high failure rate. So Greg’s solution was to insert “tree nails,” dry wooden pegs that are pounded into the door’s joints. The wood, therefore, is interlocked, and instead of being forced out as the wood dries, the tree nails are gripped tighter.nails

According to Greg, those kinds of traditional building methods often add a higher-level of quality without added expense. His ingenuity and craftsmanship means one North Shore home will enjoy the convenience of a handsome, sturdy lakeside cabana for many years to come.

Could Your Dryer Be a Danger?

Posted on 01 October 2009 | Category: General

dryerAs long as it’s working, most people don’t give a lot of thought to their clothes dryers. But consider this: According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, clothes dryers were associated with 15,600 fires in 1998 (the last year for which numbers were available), resulting in 20 deaths and 370 injuries. Those fires originated most frequently from two places: dryer venting and the lint trap.

The reason: a lack of proper vent cleaning and the use of improper dryer venting. If that sounds like an easy fix, well, sometimes it is — a simple matter of changing a hose or clearing a minor obstruction.

But newly remodeled or newer homes often locate dryers away from an outside wall, situating them in bathrooms, kitchens and in hall closets. That’s convenient, but potentially dangerous, because those exhaust systems can have multiple twists and turns behind the walls and under the floors, and can have obstructions that block access and cause lint to build up (lint is extremely flammable).

At Get Dwell, we find ourselves having to get quite creative in getting those types of systems as clean as possible, even going so far as having to invent a few things for some of our clients’ most difficult systems.

We recommend that all clients have their dryer system checked annually, especially those with interior systems. We also recommend that clients adhere to the following fire-prevention tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

• Clean the lint screen/filter before or after drying each load of clothes.

• Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct periodically. Check the outside dryer vent while the dryer is operating to make sure exhaust air is escaping. If it is not, the vent or the exhaust duct may be blocked.

• Clean behind the dryer, where lint can build up.

• Replace plastic or foil, accordion-type ducting material with rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct. Most manufacturers specify the use of a rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct, which provides maximum airflow. The flexible plastic or foil type duct can more easily trap lint and is more susceptible to kinks or crushing, which can greatly reduce the airflow.

• Take special care when drying clothes that have been soiled with volatile chemicals such as gasoline, cooking oils, cleaning agents, or finishing oils and stains. If possible, wash the clothing more than once to minimize the amount of volatile chemicals on the clothes and, preferably, hang the clothes to dry. If using a dryer, use the lowest heat setting and a drying cycle that has a cool-down period at the end of the cycle. To prevent clothes from igniting after drying, do not leave the dried clothes in the dryer or piled in a laundry basket.

Have a question or concern about your dryer system? Give Get Dwell a call. An assessment and cleaning provides peace of mind and keeps your dryer operating at peak efficiency.