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Maintenance Must-Dos for Homeowners to Complete this Fall: Part 1

Photo: freehdw.com

It’s that time of year again. The leaves have begun their transformation from green to golden yellow, orange and red, and a tinge of crispness can be felt in the cool air. Fall has officially arrived, and with it comes a checklist of household chores that everyone homeowner should complete before the cold winter days looming on the distant horizon catch up to them. Follow these maintenance must-dos for homeowners within the next few weeks, and you’ll be able to kick back and relax with a cup of hot apple cider knowing your property is in top-notch shape for the seasons to come.

Stock up on Supplies

Photo: Reader’s Digest

Whether you anxiously await on the onset of winter weather or you absolutely dread the cold that’s sure to come, stocking up on seasonal supplies is one of the simplest and most effective ways to gear up for the snow, ice and possible power outages that often accompany the season. No one wants to think about snow shovels and ice melt when it’s still warm enough to enjoy the great outdoors without having to put on a parka; however, when it comes to stocking up on winter supplies, the old adage “better safe than sorry” definitely applies.

Photo: Larson LawnScape

Rather than wait until the first flakes of snow—or, worse, a surge of sleet—begins to fall and then rushing to the store in inclement weather to grab supplies, shop for winter necessities well before you will actually need them. The specific items you’ll need to purchase depend on what geographic region you reside in and what types of climate you typically experience, but you can’t go wrong with bags of pet-safe ice melt, shovels and ice scrapers. 

Photo: DIY Network

If your home is in an area that receives significant snowfalls throughout the winter months, be sure to have your snowblower serviced so you aren’t surprised with a faulty piece of equipment that refuses to work the first time you try to start it for the season. Don’t forget to fill your portable gas container with fuel and store it in a safe spot so you can easily access it when it’s time to clear your driveway and sidewalks of that chilly powder that falls from the sky.  

Photo: Consumer Reports

You can’t put a price tag on the peace of mind that comes with realizing your walkway is quickly filling up with snow and knowing you’ve got a sufficient shovel and several bags of ice melt safely stocked in your garage or basement—stock up this fall and save yourself the trouble of grabbing gear when everyone else in town is rushing to get it!

Trim Trees to Prevent Property Damage

Photo: Post and Courier

 You don’t have to live along a hurricane-prone part of the coastline to know that strong winds can topple even the tallest of trees and toss them around like matchsticks. Dozens of people are killed in their home or their home each year when a strong storm rolls through, bringing with it enough rain to over-saturate a tree’s roots—or winds so intense they rip a tree from its foundation and send it hurtling into a home. But did you ever stop to think about how the trees in your very own yard can pose a threat to your property and your family in the dead of winter?

Photo: Riverhead News & Review

Winter storms can result in high winds that whip through neighborhoods and cause even the sturdiest of trees to break loose from the ground, potentially falling onto residences and harming those inside. Likewise, ice storms can coat the limbs of trees with layers of thick, heavy sheets of ice that cause them to snap loose from trees and fall on anything that stands below.

Photo: Alyse Lansing Garden Design

To ensure your family and your home are safe this winter—and to prevent damage from fallen trees from potentially injuring your loved ones or resulting in having to file a claim with your insurance company—use this time to take inventory of the trees on your property and to determine if any are in danger of being damaged this season. Be on the lookout for dead branches or diseased trees, which are most likely to fall victim to sheets of ice or strong winds first. Trim the damaged portions off the tree to avoid branches or limbs wreaking havoc on your residence when a winter storm hits. Trees that are leaning toward your property or that have grown just a little too close to your home for comfort should also be trimmed back, removed or relocated if possible to protect your home and its occupants this holiday season.    

Test Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Monitors

Photo: WCCO CBS Local

Nothing is more important than the safety of your family and your pets, regardless of what season it may be. Although smoke detectors in your home should be checked to ensure they are in working order once every single month, batteries are generally replaced only twice a year—and fall is the perfect time to do it.

When winter weather arrives, you’ll be trading air conditioning for central heat and ceiling fans for portable, plug-in heating devices, which can present a fire hazard when not used properly or monitored carefully. Most heated blankets manufactured within the past few years feature an automated shutoff mechanism that prevents them from overheating and potentially catching fire; however, many older products don’t turn off after being in use for a set amount of time, putting our property—and your family—at serious risk.      

Photo: Clarksville Online

Because so many products and devices are used during the winter months to heat your home and personal space, it’s imperative to replace the batteries and check your smoke detectors in the fall to ensure they are in working order and can alert you to a fire if necessary. But fire isn’t the only threat homeowners face during the winter. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 20,000 people are exposed to carbon monoxide each year and end up in the emergency room. In addition, 4,000 individuals will require hospitalization for their illness, and more than 400 people die as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning—many of them while sleeping in their own homes, unaware that they have been exposed to the deadly gas that can be generated by something so seemingly harmless as a furnace.

This odorless, colorless and tasteless gas is extremely difficult to detect, and while the initial systems are similar to those that come with a common cold or flu—such as headache, nausea, dizziness and weakness—coming into contact with carbon monoxide can ultimately result in carbon monoxide poisoning or even death. Don’t let your family risk a dangerous encounter carbon monoxide this season. Purchase a few carbon monoxide detectors for various rooms in your home online or at your local hardware store, and rest assured knowing your loved ones are safe from this difficult-to-detect substance that has been coined the “the silent killer.”

**Check Coastal Cottage Company’s blog next week for more helpful and important tips for preparing your property for the upcoming winter season!

 

 

 

 

The Move of the Millennium: Moving the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Photo: Photography Life

When it comes to landmarks along the Outer Banks of North Carolina, none are as well-known or frequently visited as the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The iconic lighthouse—which stands 193 feet in height—is the tallest lighthouse in the United States and attracts approximately 200,000 visitors each year, making it one of the most popular attractions from Corolla to Ocracoke Island. Situated in the heart of Buxton on Hatteras Island, the famous black-and-white spiraled structure has stood watch over the Graveyard of the Atlantic for centuries, warning sailors of the treacherous sandbars and shifting shoals that lie just off the coast of barrier islands.

Photo: National Geographic

However, in 1999—nearly 200 years after the construction process was complete and the lighthouse was lit for the very first time—the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse found itself threatened by the ever-encroaching Atlantic Ocean. Decade after decade of converging currents, strong surf and storms ranging from minor nor’easters to massive hurricanes caused the ocean to slowly but surely swallow up stretches of the sandbar on which the lighthouse stood, leaving the tower increasingly vulnerable to the white-capped waves and the threat of imminent destruction.

Photo: National Park Service

In 1893, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was recorded as standing 1,500 feet from the shoreline, but less than a century later, in 1975, only 175 feet stood between the structure and the pounding surf. When cracks were found in the walls of the tower, the lighthouse was closed to the public. Five years later, when the lighthouse stood just 50 feet from the ocean, U.S. Senator Helms and North Carolina Gov. Hunt teamed up with others who feared the damaged structure would be lost to the sea if left in its current condition, and the Save the Lighthouse Committee was formed. The National Park Service requested an independent study of the lighthouse’s precarious position be performed, and the results included the recommendation that the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse eventually be moved to a spot farther away from the sea.

Photo: Pinterest

Attempting to buy some time before the structure had to be relocated, the National Park Service called for restoration of the cracks in the tower that had forced the closure of this Outer Banks landmark. The restoration process began in 1990, and once the cracks were fixed and visitors could once again safely climb the 257 steps inside the lighthouse to reach the top, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse reopened to the public in 1993. In the years that followed, the erosion continued, and the epic waves that attract so many surfers to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore each year had stripped away all but a small sliver of sandbar that separated the base of the tower from the Atlantic Ocean.

Photo: Lighthouse Friends

In order to save the lighthouse from eventual devastation, the National Park Service had to pick one of three options for ultimately preventing the structure from falling into the sea: reinforcing the existing jetties that were designed to stretch into the surf and reduce the impact of wave action on the island; constructing a seawall around the lighthouse so that it would eventually end up sitting atop its own island in the ocean; or move it to a safer location a bit further inland. Although there was widespread support for all three options, in the end it was determined that the best option for protecting the tower was moving the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse farther away from the surf that constantly threatened it. In 1998, the U.S. Congress passed a relocation budget, and the plans to perform the so-called “move of the millennium” were officially prepared.

Photo: National Park Service

Although smaller lighthouses had been moved in other coastal states in years past, moving the tallest lighthouse in the United States was no small feat—and no structure of its scale had ever been relocated before. A New York-based company called International Chimney Corp. was contracted to move the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse with the help of another contractor, Expert House Movers of Maryland. In order to move the structure from its perilous position by the sea, the lighthouse—which weighed 4,830 tons—would have to be lifted off its foundation and transferred to a transport system that would ultimately move it along a predetermined route to its new location, where it would be placed atop an all-new foundation.

Photo: Island Free Press

The first step in the process of moving the lighthouse was to replace the original foundation with temporary supports and shoring beams. A series of cross beams and main beams were then set, allowing the temporary supports to be moved. The structure was then raised six feet off its foundation by hydraulic jacks that were built into the main beams. Once the structure was raised, rollers and roll beams were inserted. The jacks were shored with the use of oak cribbing, and the system was pressurized and lifted again by the jacks. As the structure was lifted off its foundation a little at a time, the jacks were retracted and shored up several times before it was once again lifted to six feet and ready to begin its journey down a pathway through the sand to its new location nearly 3,000 feet from the spot where it currently stood.

Photo: Pinterest

On June 17, 1999, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse captured the attention of people across the country and around the world, as it started its slow and deliberate journey to the southwest. The support frame moved along its track to the new location with the assistance of roller dollies and steel track beams that served as rails. The lighthouse was kept carefully aligned by three zones of hydraulic jacks, which prevented the structure from swaying and potentially tipping over. The support frame was pulled forward toward the new lighthouse location just five feet at a time by a series of push jacks that were clamped to the track. Sixty automated sensors placed in various positions on the lighthouse constantly measured the load’s tilt and vibration, and a weather sensor attached to the top of the lighthouse kept tabs on the temperature and wind speed throughout the entire moving process.

Photo: OuterBanks.org

Three weeks after the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse began its 2,900-foot journey from its perilous perch on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean the move was complete, and the structure was placed on top of its new foundation. The lighthouse joined several other structures that had been relocated from the original lighthouse site earlier that year, including the principal keeper’s quarters, the double keeper’s quarters, an oil house and cisterns. Finally saved from years spent facing the risk of tumbling into the ocean that had continuously eroded the shoreline over which it stood watch for centuries, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse reopened to the public on November 13, 1999, and once again resumed its status as one of the most iconic landmarks on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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