Smart Locks Review

Buying Smart LocksSmart Locks Review

The popularity of Bluetooth has extended to locks on our front doors, but are they as safe as they sound?  With many consumers, especially the Millennials, love for new gadgets the cell phones have become an integral part of our daily routines.  From adjusting the climate control, turning the lights on or off to locking and unlocking the doors, today’s homeowners could adjust many functions in their homes remotely from anywhere in the world through their mobile devices.  This convenience at times has resulted in the expense of the safety, leaving the properties vulnerable to hack by many hackers.

In a recent hackers convention, Def Con, two researchers from Merculite Security put 16 smart locks to test to try to hack and open them.  Apparently, the weak link is in the Bluetooth transmission of commands and passwords from homeowners to the locks.  Some of the transmissions were in text instead of encryption while passwords were easily stolen through Bluetooth sniffers on others.  The locks communicating through simple texts with the App are proven to be the most vulnerable.  The example of these locks are:

  • Quicklock Doorlock
  • Quicklock Padlock
  • iBlulock Padlock
  • Plantraco Phantomlock

For more details and the list of the locks that the researchers could not hack please visit the Def Con Report on Picking Bluetooth Locks

 

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Tips on Securing Condos in Florida for The Summer

Closing Condominium for SummerTips on Securing Condos in Florida for The Summer

Are you wondering how to close your condo for summer in Florida?  Every year many condo owners cause unintended damages to their or their neighboring units by not knowing how to close and secure a condo in Florida.  Florida is the most popular destinations  to second home buyers as well as many part-time residents from Northern USA and the “Snow Birds” from Canada.  While enjoying the beautiful winter weather in the City of Port St Lucie, Florida is a blessing, there are some steps that are necessary to secure your property before heading back.  The following tips will save you money while preventing leaks or other mishaps while you are away.

  1. Shut Off the main  water valve- many times we have witnessed water leaks in unoccupied condo units causing damages to the unit as well as the other units located adjacent or below them.  Try to locate the main valve to your unit which is normally located by the water heater or outside the unit.  Your building manager is the best source to assist you in locating and shutting off the valve.  When you are back in your condo just run the cold water for few minutes to bring fresh water through the pipes.
  2. Be sure to shut off the water heater.
  3. Adjust the A/C unit- most A/C manufacturers offer instruction on adjusting the temperature and other settings while condo unit is not in use, read them carefully and act accordingly.  The humidity in Florida will damage the units that are not ventilated and increase the chance of growth of molds.  Running your A/C while you are away is very crucial in avoiding the formation of molds.
  4. Adjust the thermostat and humidistat- if can not find the instruction from the manufacturer the rule of thumb is to set the A/C to 80 and humidistat at 60.
  5. Clean or install a new A/C filter- your A/C will run more efficient with a clean filter
  6. A/C drainage- any blockage of the Drain Pan and Drain Hose could cause damages to the units while unoccupied.  Try to locate the Drain Hose and if there is no sign of water dripping chances are that the drip pan is clogged, which may result in the overflow of the drip pan and eventually will damage and collapse the ceiling.
  7. Turn off all circuit breakers- but the circuit breaker for A/C or alarm, if you have one.
  8. Prep kitchen- drain and garbage disposal, pour 1/4 cup of each lemon juice and cooking oil without any running water then run the garbage disposal for few seconds.  This will lubricate the garbage disposal and reduces bacteria in the sink drainage area.
  9. Prep the refrigerator- by turning off the circuit breakers the refrigerator is off as well and you need to empty out the bins, door and shelves of both refrigerator and freezer and you could also put a box of baking soda on the middle shelf  and leave the doors slightly open to get rid of any odors that might stay with the fridge while it is off.
  10. Prep furniture- by leaving dresser drawers, armoire and closet doors and also lift the mattress to its side to ventilate and allow air to circulate through them.
  11. Prep the dishwasher- even though most manufacturers do not mention anything about prepping the dishwashers while is not in use, our experience with leaving the door slightly open and leaving a box of baking soda have been positive in eliminating odors and molds.
  12. Prep the toilet bowls- by adding 1/4 cup of bleach to the bowl then close the door and wrap plastic tightly around the bowl and the door.
  13. Clear all balconies- any items that are not fixed securely could become a projectile during the hurricane and cause damages to properties as well as injury to people.
  14. Notify the building management, of your absence.  They will keep their eyes on any unwanted activities in and around your unit.

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Securing Florida Homes For the Summer

Checklist For Closing Winter Homes in Florida
Florida Vacation HomesIf you are like most Snowbirds you need to close up your Florida Home for the Winter.  Below are some tips and checklist so you won’t forget the things to do.

  1. Turn off the main water valve to your Unit or Residence.  Be sure to turn off the circuit breaker to your hot-water heater. Upon Your return turn on both the hot water and cold water and let them run for a few minutes to get clean water into the pipes.
  2. It is a good idea to unplug expensive appliances such as your TV.
  3. Make sure your air conditioning (A/C) unit is in good operating condition.  The filter should be changed prior to leaving for the summer.  A clean air filter will operate more efficiently and save on electricity.  Set your humidistat according to manufacturers directions. Common settings are 80 and 60, respectively.  It is very important to keep your air conditioning running to reduce the chance of mold formation in your unit or residence.  Air Conditioners take the moisture out of the air that produces the mold.  Make sure the outside drain pipe for the air condition is open and operating properly.   If no condensate water is dripping out there it is a good chance that condensate will build up in the drip pan.  Make sure you do
    not turn off the circuit breakers for the A/C.
  4. Pour 1/8 cup of lime or lemon juice and 1/4 cup of vegetable oil down the kitchen drain and run the garbage disposal for a couple of seconds without running the water. Then add a cup of vegetable oil.The acidity of the juice inhibits bacterial growth and the oil lubricates and helps keep down the rust.
  5. Clean out and empty the refrigerator while propping open the doors and leave the bin drawers open.  Unplug the refrigerator and turn off the circuit breaker.  This will save you money and prevent mold.  
  6. Open dresser drawers and other furniture drawers to allow air circulation and prevent mold.
  7. Add 1/4 cup of Clorox Bleach to the toilet bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.  This will prevent bacteria and mold from growing.
  8. Remove all items from the Patio or Backyard even if the room is enclosed with a screen.  Hurricanes can turn these items into flying destructible objects.
  9. Place hurricane shutters on the windows
  10. Call the PSL police department for a property check and complete the form.  The PSL police department will make regular wellness checks.  Thier phone is:  772-871-5000

Have a safe and wonderful Summer!  Maybe we Leaf Peepers will see you in the Fall!

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Prevent Mold with Humidistat When Closing Florida Vacation Home

Humidistat Prevents MoldHow to Prevent Mold in Vacation Home or Condo in Florida

For people who own a piece of paradise in the City of Port St Lucie, it is important to know how to prevent mold in your home or condo in Florida.  The following information is compiled to demonstrate how with a few simple steps you could avoid the costly and sometimes devastating effect of mold and mildew in you vacation home in Florida.

How Does Humidistat Work?

Mold can start to take roots inside your home when the Relative Humidity (RH) exceeds about 68 percent. A Humidistat, which directly controls indoor Relative Humidity, is one way to prevent mold.  It is also important to know that the dehumidifiers and some central air conditioners have a built-in humidistat that tells the system to dehumidify the air to a desired point.

Setting your Humidistat or Dehumidifier

Since some humidistat sensors are inaccurate by as many as 10 percentage points, set the controls of your humidistats and dehumidifiers to 58 percent RH to maintain acceptable humidity, 

Other ways to control mold

For homes or condos without humidistat, another way to control mold when you’re away is by programming the A/C to run at 72 degrees for just two hours before sunrise and at 88 degrees the rest of the day.

But what if you don’t have a programmable thermostat? In that case, set the A/C at 77 degrees for condos or apartments and 80 degrees for single family homes and townhouses. (Remember to have the fan switch set to auto.)

If you live seasonally in the city of Port St Lucie, Florida or leave for extended periods of time, the most economical way to prevent mold in a vacant home is by using stand-alone dehumidifiers instead of A/C. Use one for every 1,000 square feet. Visit FPL.com to learn what settings that are best when you’re away.  Be sure to have your home checked regularly.

We also recommend repairing any leaks around doors, windows and in your A/C ductwork, which will help minimize the amount of moisture getting into your home. We also offer a duct system testing and repair program.

We’d like to know if this helps, so feel free to leave us a comment below. Remember to refer any of your customer service questions or concerns to FPL.com/contact.

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Problems with Chinese Drywall

Detecting Problen Chinese DrywallImportant Notice About Chinese Drywall Problems

To All Buyers of Homes in Tradition, St Lucie West, and Port St Lucie: Buyers Be Aware of Defective Chinese Drywall in Homes Built During the Last Decade.

In the height of the construction boom and in the aftermath of the active hurricane seasons the shortage of drywall and other construction materials forced the developers to import them from China during the period of 2004 to 2006.  Unfortunately, some of the imported Chinese drywall were manufactured with toxic materials and caused an adverse effect on the values of homes that were constructed with the Chinese drywall.   Although the problems persisted throughout 2008, but there were reports of similar issues with some of the imported Chinese drywall in earlier years. 

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, ATSDR along with the US Consumer Product Safety Agency and other similar centers started the investigation of the possible problem with the imported Chinese drywall in 2009.  Eventually, the task of measuring the sulfur components that could have been released from problem Chinese drywall was referred to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, LBNL.  The sulfur compounds from 30 Chinese drywall samples manufactured in 2005 and 2006 were compared to that of the drywall manufactured in North America in 2009. 

Consequently, the ATSDR employed the help of Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Tech, to make an estimation of the sulfur compounds concentration in homes built by the drywall based on the test results obtained from of LBNL.

Health Ramifications of the Chinese Drywall

Finally, by the tests were completed by LBNL and Georgia tech the concern for the health ramifications of the Chinese drywall samples were examined.  The results were simply stated as “Test chamber used by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to measure emissions from drywall samples”. For more information please refer to the complete reports by ATSDR.

 The tests also revealed that the level of the sulfur compound emissions was consistent with the problem of the metal corrosion in homes with the Chinese drywall.  They also estimated that the level of the sulfur components emissions was much higher in early days of manufacturing.  It is noteworthy to mention that the drywall samples that were manufactured in North America in 2009 did not show any unusual levels of sulfur emissions as the imported Chinese drywall did.  The final section of the report indicates the health risks of the exposure to sulfur components and the Chinese drywall as:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Irritations if nose, throat, and eyes, and
  • Asthma-like respiratory problems

People who were exposed to sulfur compounds emitted by some drywall manufactured in China may have experienced health effects and buyers of the new homes that were built during that period must do their due diligence before they buy.   Currently, the only remedy in place is to completely strip down the drywall within the entire home, decontaminate and re-drywall.  Another side effect of the Chinese drywalls that need to be replaced is the signs of the premature corrosion in some metal parts in the homes including the gas lines and some electrical components.  This is due to the emission of an unusual level of sulfurous compounds from the problems with Chinese drywall.  In order to completely control the damage caused by the Chinese drywall all gas lines and, parts, as well as the electrical switch boxes, ground wires, and A/C coils should be replaced.  So far, there is no indication that the Chinese drywall problems have extended into the wiring in the buildings.

This emission of sulfur compounds from the Chinese drywalls has become a serious matter with serious health and financial consequences. To differentiate the homes that are affected by the Chinese drywall from the rest, all buyers need the assistance of the professionals in the field and no buyers should be depending solely on the words of the sellers alone.  Buyers and their agents should be diligent about the problematic Chinese drywalls and try to call for Chinese drywall inspection when purchasing a home that was built from 2001 to 2008 in the area.

When buying homes in Port St Lucie, St Lucie West, and Tradition please use local Realtors and other real estate professionals with working experience in the area.  For more information about the availability of the new and resale homes along with information on the Chinese drywalls and locating dependable Drywall Inspectors please contact:

Email: info@portstlucie.city

Phone: (772) 236-5514

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Guide to Detecting the Evidence of the Problem Chinese Drywall

Chinese Drywall ProblemsDetecting Chinese Drywall Problem

According to Consumer Product Safety Commission Guideline, there are many signs that might link a house to the problematic Chinese drywall defects.  According to this report, the step one in this report covers the Threshold Inspection through the Visual Inspection.  The first telltale sign is the blackening of copper electrical wiring and the A/C evaporating coils.  This method of identifying is easy for any unskilled person to determine the possibility of erosions associated with the presence of the sulfur compound in the defective Chinese drywalls.  Some of the water connection, between the main line and appliances such as the dishwasher, under the kitchen sink, are sometimes cooper-based materials and the blackening of these waterlines are easily visible to the naked eyes.  The second step is broader than the visual inspection.  The guideline asks to define if the drywall was installed between 2001 and 2009.  The installation could be for both the construction of the home or renovation.

The step 2, the Corroborating Evidence goes further in details and generally will need assistance from laboratories and experts.  This step explores the fact that there are other reasons that could have caused the discoloration and blackening of copper elements.  For the homes that the characteristics of the metal erosions are present, the guideline calls for 2 different criteria.  First for the homes with the drywall installation date of between 2005 and 2009 at least 2 of the collaborating evidence must be present.  Secondly, for the drywalls installed between 2001 and 2004 at least four of the following collaborating evidence must exist.

Collaborating Evidence of Defective Chinese Drywall

  1. Sulfur compounds level in the drywall exceeds 10ppm
  2. Formation of copper sulfide on copper test strips that are placed in the house for a period of 2 to 4 weeks.  This step is to confirm that the blackening of copper elements such as the copper ground wires or the A/C coils are as a result of the defectiveive drywall and unacceptable level of sulfur compounds in the drywall
  3. Visual examination of the “Made in China” marks on the back of the drywalls
  4. Higher than standard levels of hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and/or carbon sulfide from drywall samples after conducting the ASTM Standard Test Method D5504-08or similar chamber testing
  5. The evidence of the corrosion caused by placing both of the copper metal and drywall sample in the chambers

As previously mentioned collecting such collaborating evidence will require assistance from expert professionals or testing laboratories.  For more information about Chinese drywall inspectors or help with any other concerns regarding a home that you are planning to purchase please contact us at:

Email: info@portstlucie.city

Phone: (772) 236-5514

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Address : 1555 St Lucie W BlvdPort St Lucie, FL 34986, United StatesPhone: +1 772-323-6730 Email: info@portstlucie.city

Chinese Drywall Problems

Chinese Drywall Effected StatesBuyer Be Aware of Chinese Drywall

 Note: While many websites have chosen not to mention anything about possible problems with SOME of the units in certain developments constructed around 2003-2007.  We found it our duty to point out some issues that were raised due to the use of the defected Chinese drywall with some of the resale properties in the past.  If you have not heard about this problem, here is short synopsis: The high demand for construction materials during the real estate boom of the last decade resulted in some importation of Chinese drywall that did not meet the standards of the quality.  

 Unfortunately, after a short period of time, the homeowner who purchased homes that were constructed with the defected Chinese drywall became aware of the issue.  The telltale signs were the presence of some foul odor and in some cases a noticeable erosion of metal plumbing and electric boxes.  A further investigation resulted in the issuance of warning from health agencies on the possible health hazards of the exposure to such environment.  The above map shows the states that have been affected by the problems caused by defective Chinese drywall. 

 For more information please refer to our comprehensive article titled “Problem with Chinese Drywall” in the blog section of this website, or simply visit the following links:

Also please read the article in TC Palm

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Address : 1555 St Lucie W BlvdPort St Lucie, FL 34986, United StatesPhone: +1 772-323-6730 Email: info@portstlucie.city