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Everyday Maintenance: How to help your home handle summer storms

Summer storms are a fact of life for us here in Queensland.  While we can’t control mother nature, there are things we can do to help protect our homes against storms and minimise potential damage.  These are our top maintenance recommendations for storm season:

  • Ensure your gutters, drains and downpipes are all clear so that any sudden and heavy rainfalls can flow through smoothly.  This will help reduce the risk of flooding
  • Fix any existing termite damage to avoid it getting worse. Termite damage can significantly weaken a structure and if you add severe wind rain that may occur during a storm, what might have been simple reinforcement could quickly become a much bigger problem.
  • Seal areas around the property and house that may be susceptible to moisture collection. Termites love heat and moisture so by eliminating potential nesting areas, you reduce the risk of attracting them to your home.
  • Make sure you know how to safely turn off utilities.   In an emergency situation, you may need to switch off things like power, water and gas so familiarise yourself with the location of the main switches and how to control them safely.
  • Secure loose items around your property and make sure any overhanging tree branches near your house or powerlines are removed. This will help reduce any damage that might be caused from strong winds or lightning.  If you need to report a tree growing into a powerline, click here.
  • Seek professional help.  If you live in a storm prone area or think your home may be susceptible to damage, get a professional to inspect your home and assess its structural integrity.

Contact APM Solutions on (07) 3828 2020 if you would like a quote for a building or termite inspection or click here.

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A Year in Review: 2016

 

2016 has been a great year for APM Solutions.  We’ve inspected and treated more houses than ever before and can’t wait to hit the ground running in 2017!  As this year comes to an end, here is a quick overview of the most common things our inspectors and technicians have seen throughout the year:

Termites

Live Termites

Although we get to enjoy a beautiful sub-tropical climate here in Queensland, the hot and humid weather also is also loved by termites.  During the warmer months, we frequently find active termite nests in unsuspecting homes.  If detected early on, termites can be managed effectively and affordably, however, if left too late the damage caused can be very expensive to repair and cause homeowners a lot of strife.  Our senior inspector has over 30 years experienced in the building industry and always gives clients an honest opinion on termite prevention techniques, management and treatment options so you aren’t left to stress unnecessarily.

Damaged Shields

Most homes old or new have some termite protection installed. Many homes have protection in the form of a physical barrier – usually a shield that protects the foundations of a home from termites.  We commonly find that during renovations, builders disturb or damage these barriers which can leave a home vulnerable to termite attacks without the homeowner realising.  It is important that these issues are found and fixed immediately to protect homes from potential infestations.

Direct ground contact

When any structural wooden components of the garden like pergolas or fences come into direct contact with the ground, there is an increased risk of attracting termites. Having metal fixtures that attach them to the ground can help reduce the risk of termites finding them.  Alternatively, ensuring that the bottom of a fence is a few millimetres off the ground can also help keep termites and pests at bay.

Removal of Smoke Alarms

In regards to smoke alarms, one of the most dangerous issues we find during inspections is when residents remove the smoke alarms. By removing them, you are tripling your risk of death in a house fire.  Staying informed about changes in legislation and having regular inspections can help ensure smoke alarm compliance and safety within the property.  For more detailed information on Queensland on smoke alarm legislation, click here.

Gas Tanks

We often find that outdoor gas tanks are not properly secured and tethered down. This is an especially hazardous problem as strong storms common throughout a Queensland summer can displace or damage the tanks which can lead to gas leaks, fires or explosions.

It is also illegal and dangerous to connect a barbeque gas tank to a home’s main gas supply.  These are among the issues we have come across during a routine inspection of a property.  The best way to make sure your property is safe is to act responsibly within the home and if you are unsure, get an inspection done by a professional.  Thankfully in this situation, due to APM’s inspection, the problem was found and resolved safely.

Insufficient Drainage

Another problem that becomes a big issue during the stormy summer months is homes without proper sub-floor drainage. These properties become more susceptible to flooding and termites.  When the drainage system has not been planned or installed correctly, water can accumulate under a house, remain stagnant or create moisture.  This environment then becomes the perfect breeding ground for termites.  If you think this is happening in your residence, it is important to inspect and manage the problem before any severe damage occurs.

Non-Compliant Balconies and Stair Treads

Many homes have outdoor balconies, however, as building standards have changed through the years, not all homeowners have updated everything to comply with current standards. We commonly find older homes with balcony railings and stair treads that are a safety hazard.  Current standards state that “when a deck or balcony is one metre or higher above the ground, balustrades need to be at least one metre high.”  You can find more detailed information on government standards via the following links:

http://www.hpw.qld.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/DeckBalconyAndWindowSafetyGuideline.pdf

http://www.hpw.qld.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/CheckYourDeckAndBalconyFactSheet.pdf

Thermal Imaging: Everything you need to know

At APM, every building & pest inspection we do includes a thermal imaging scan of the property.  This is an essential part of the process as it is a useful tool for identifying whether there are any active termites hiding between walls.  It can also help identify if there is any issues moisture build up, ventilation or dampness.

 About Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging is a useful piece of technology that displays images in regards to heat levels of an area rather than visible light.  Physical inspections can only asses a structure by using a tapping tool to check if there are any soft spots present.   In comparison, thermal imaging allows us to non-invasively asses areas that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye until severe damage was already done.

How it works

Thermal cameras work by visually showing us the differences in heat patterns of an area.   Inanimate objects like timber or dry wall show up as cool because they emit no heat.  Termites however, are living organisms that nest in groups and require dark, damp areas to build their mounds.  Due to the nature of their behaviour, they emit high levels of heat in comparison to the inanimate timber structures they like to reside in.  The cameras allow us to spot identify if there are any active termite issues within walls, ceilings or under floors that might otherwise look pristine.

Limitations

Although thermal cameras are an extremely useful tool during the building and pest inspection, they do have limitations which we always outline to our clients within our reports.  Because the cameras work based on reading heat levels, they cannot identify if there is structural damage present from a previous termite inspection.

 

Contact APM Solutions on (07) 3828 2020 if you think you have hidden termites on your property.

Termites. What attracts them to your home?

Is your home and surrounds the perfect environment for termites to move on in?

Queensland is home to summer storms, humid weather and wooden properties which are three perfect environments for termites to thrive. The condition and location of your property are two of the biggest factors which determine if they will thrive in your home. While you may not be able to escape Queensland’s iconic weather, you can ensure your property is maintained well enough to keep termites at bay.

Garden Beds

Having wood, plants or garden beds up against your property will make it easy for termites to get in from the ground. Termites like to feed and even nest in dark, moist areas and as Queensland’s summer is humid enough, try not to create another perfect environment for them to thrive.

Keep your gardens with a six-inch buffer from the walls or foundations of your property and avoid wetting the house when watering the gardens. This will keep the walls and foundations dry as possible and termites absent in the backyard of your property.

Walls and Floorboards

Once termites have set foothold in your property, they will head straight for the wooden walls and floorboards. Inside the walls and amongst the beams of your property is a popular spot, especially those which are adjoining to the kitchen, laundry, and bathroom (damp areas). Ensure all pipes, guttering, downpipes, taps and air conditioning units are in good repair and not leaking water.

Cellulose

Termites get their nutrition from cellulose which is the substance of wood and grass. Cellulose is one of the most common and durable substances on earth; hence it being hard to avoid and making termites a common factor in Queensland homes.

If you’re building a new home, use pressure treated timber or naturally resistant woods like redwood. Or you can avoid using wood altogether. If you’re living in an already established property; APM solutions can provide chemical treatments which create a barrier against termite infestations.

Do you have termites?

Warning signs to look for, include:

  • Floor boards that sound hollow when tapped, or holes in wood
  • Cracked or bubbling paint on the windows, skirting boards or architraves
  • Damp walls, in and around areas which have poor drainage during summer storms
  • Mud tunnels, on the exterior of the house
  • Termite droppings, which look like saw dust on the floor

If you have noticed any of the above warning signs in your Queensland property, contact APM Solutions today. If termites are present in addition to other pests such as cockroaches, mice or fungi; our pest inspector will go through your most suited solution to prevent any further damage including the installation of a termite barrier.

Termites love Brisbane’s weather

As much as Queenslanders don’t like the rain, unfortunately termites do. Which isn’t great news for home owners and investors, considering some parts of Brisbane had their wettest June since 1967 according to the Bureau of Meteorology. In fact, Alderley recorded nearly four times the average June rainfall.

Combine that with the warmer than average days and nights we’ve been enjoying recently and you have the perfect termite breeding ground, which is often invisible to the eye.

Therefore, homeowners are advised to be extra cautious coming into Spring and at the very least, remove all timber from around the house that is in contact with soil, any dead trees or stumps and fix any leaking pipes or systems running near the house.

Whilst this is a great start to prevent a termite attack, it won’t do much if they have already made their way into the valuable house.

The only way to find this out before the repair bill enters the thousands of dollars is to engage a termite technician to conduct a thorough inspection using thermal imaging cameras etc.

If you’re lucky enough to get the all clear, but live in a risky area, the best protection you can provide your house is a chemical soil barrier which will offer long term prevention.

However, if termites are present, you will need to eradicate them first before definitely installing a chemical soil barrier at a later date.

If you have any questions or concerns or you would like to book a termite inspection, please don’t hesitate to contact us.