When it comes to owning a home, the safety of you and your family is a necessity. You will want to inspect the home to ensure all areas are safe and secure. This includes any handrail or banister associated with your stairs. If you have young children you will want to teach them how to navigate up and down the stairs. Having handrails in place is a great start. How do handrails on stairs help keep you safe? They are a guide and provide stability as you move up and down the stairs.

Let’s take a look below at some more details regarding handrail safety.

What Is A Stair Handrail?

The primary function of a stair handrail is to provide support and stability while walking up or down the stairs. Having something safe to grab onto allows you to navigate the stairs more quickly and confidently. Gliding your hand down the handrail is the key. It is recommended that you use the “tennis-racket grip” to maintain a safe hold on the handrail at all times.

What Is The Purpose Of A Handrail?

Believe it or not, handrails serve a great purpose. Aside from just being something to grab onto while on the stairs, they will provide an aesthetically pleasing sight to your stairs. Let’s take a look below at how handrails on stairs help keep you safe.

  • Prevent accidents – Handrails are installed to provide you with something to grab onto while navigating up and down the stairs. This keeps you from having accidents if you trip on a step or miss a step.
  • Provide mobility – For homeowners that might not have great balance, the handrail provides them with more mobility as they can go up and down the stairs in a safe manner.
  • Liability protection – Having a handrail in place protects any liability on the homeowner. Imagine not having a handrail and someone tripping on your stairs. This would be potential for a lawsuit if someone were to get hurt.

How Can I Make Handrails More Visible?

To increase the safety of a handrail you will want to do a few things to make them more visible. Let’s take a look below at what those things might be.

  • Take extra precautions on stairs if you happen to wear bifocal glasses.
  • Consider a matte finish on the treads so that you can avoid any glares.
  • Improve depth perception by using angular lighting and color contrast.
  • Don’t use any patterned carpeting. This may hide the depth differences on the stairs.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you know how handrails on stairs are meant to keep you safe you can explore other safety areas in your home. Use a springtime maintenance checklist to ensure that you have the whole home up-to-date.

Next, while you are working to determine if the handrail is safe and secure, you might encounter a dent in your wall. Understanding how to repair dents in your wall will save you from having to hire an additional contractor to repair them for you.

Lastly, if you are having a home inspection done, it is a great idea to know what to expect before, during, and after the home inspection is complete. This will give you an advanced idea of how everything will play out.

When Do I Call A Professional?

When you purchase or build a home with a second story or a split-level you will want to ensure that the handrail is intact and properly working. Additionally, this should be covered during the home inspection of the purchase. Also, if proper building codes are not followed you will want to have this corrected. For safety reasons, hire a professional to assist with the installation of a new handrail.


Anytime you are upgrading your home or making changes you will want to follow the building codes. Hiring a professional that understands building codes is key. Consequently, hiring someone who specializes in handrail installation is key. Also, call on your local home inspection team to check the stairs and other areas of the staircase to ensure that everything is safe. Reach out to Blue Guardian Home Inspections for a staircase handrail inspection during a complete home inspection in Kendall, Kane, Dupage, and LaSalle Counties of Illinois.

When it comes to owning a home there can be various nuances to the home. Some homeowners enjoy a wood-fired fireplace, while others have gas fireplaces installed. No matter which one you have in your home, you must understand the maintenance needs. Having a fireplace is an exciting amenity, but should not be taken lightly. Gas fireplaces can be activated in a variety of ways. One of those is by using a wall key. Wondering how to turn on a gas fireplace with a wall key? Insert the wall key into the ignition hole and turn the key to open up the gas flow.

Let’s take a look below at some more detailed steps.

What Tools Do I Need?

Believe it or not, only a couple of tools are necessary to complete this project. You will need the following items for this project:

  • Gas fireplace wall key for wall switch
  • Long matches or a kitchen lighter

Where Is It Located?

With the gas fireplace, there is a gas valve knob that prevents the flow of gas when the fireplace is not in use. Luckily, you can partially or completely open the gas valve knob as you require a gas flow for your fireplace. In this case, there is a round metal flange that consists of a square or hex hold in the center. This is your gas valve knob. You can find this on either wall side about a foot off the floor. Additionally, they can be located at ground level on the fireplace apron or ground level on the flooring of the actual fireplace.

What Are My Steps?

Just like any project, there are steps for using the wall key to ignite your gas fireplace. Let’s take a look below at the recommended steps.

  1. Find the gas valve knob – Locate the gas valve knob on the wall or floor of the fireplace. Keep the wall key close to the unit so that you don’t lose it.
  2. Open the fireplace – It is necessary to open the glass doors or screen of the fireplace.
  3. Find the ignition area – You will see a pipe with holes or valves. This is where the pilot light to light the fireplace is located.
  4. Get your lighter ready – Have your long matches or lighter ready to go, once you open the gas flow.
  5. Use the key – Insert the wall gas metal key into the valve and make sure it is a clean fit.
  6. Slowly turn and open – Rotate your wall key a quarter of a half turn in the counter-clockwise direction. It is important to slowly open the valve so that you do not flood your fireplace with a massive amount of gas.
  7. Light the gas – Use your lighter or matches and light the gas.
  8. Continue to open the valve – Once the flame is lit, you can continue to turn the gas valve in the counter-clockwise position. Continue opening until the valve stops. If you want the flame to stay short turn the valve down. Just be careful not to turn it too far or the flame could go out.
  9. Remove the wall key – Be sure to remove the wall key once you have your gas flow set. You don’t want to accidentally break off the wall key or mistakenly turn off your flame.
  10. Turn off the gas flow – When you have finished using your gas fireplace, replace the wall key and turn the valve clockwise until it completely stops turning to close the gas valve. You will notice the flame begin to simmer down and eventually go out.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you know how to turn on your gas fireplace with a wall key, you can begin reading up on if your gas fireplace needs to be cleaned. Chances are this is a good idea to prevent residue from the gas flames from building up on your fireplace.

Next, be sure that you understand the by-product of your gas fireplace. It might be a good idea to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home in case your gas fireplace is giving off too much carbon monoxide.

Lastly, while you are working to maintain your gas fireplace, this might be time to maintain other areas of the home. For example, changing the air filter in your HVAC unit should be done on a semi-annually timeline. If you use your HVAC system a lot and have pets in the home, you might want to consider changing the air filter more often than every 6 months.

When Do I Call A Professional?

If you are struggling to light the gas fireplace with your wall key, there may be an issue with the gas line. Call on your local master plumber that has experience working with gas lines. They can troubleshoot what is happening with the lack of gas flow to your fireplace, or determine if there is a gas leak. Also, reach out to your local home inspection team for an equipment inspection. Additionally, they can recommend a reputable master plumber or gas company to assist.


Knowing the ins and outs of your gas fireplace is important for the safety of you and your family. Additionally, having the common sense when you smell gas to shut everything off and get your family to safety is key. If you smell gas, you should call on your local home inspection team to inspect all of your home systems. Additionally, they can bring in a master plumber with gas line experience. Call on Blue Guardian Home Inspections for a full home inspection in Kendall, Kane, Dupage, and LaSalle Counties of Illinois.

Imagine just getting home from work and a storm has knocked out the power to your home. Now it is impossible for you to open your garage door with your remote, so getting soaked is likely going to happen. You park your car and run inside your home so that you can manually open the garage door and safely park your car. How to manually open a garage door? This involves understanding where the emergency release cord is and what steps are necessary.

Let’s take a look below at the details involved with manually opening and closing a garage door.

How Do I Open It From The Outside?

Opening your garage door from the outside can be a little more tedious than opening it from the inside. If you lose power you will need to know how to manually open your garage door from inside and outside your home. Let’s take a look below at the recommended steps.

  • Find the emergency release kit – At the top of your garage door, there is a small lock. The lock keeps the emergency release cable. Keep in mind, you need the key to the lock to release the door.
  • Emergency release cord – Use the key to open the lock tumbler and locate the release cable. Pull the emergency release cord to trigger the release mechanism and place your garage door into its manual mode.
  • Unlock the garage door – Use your key to unlock the next lock that is responsible for keeping the door closed. Turn the handle on the door so it is facing a vertical position.
  • Push the door up – Grab the exterior garage door handle and lift the door. Once the door is open, ensure that it will stay open. You wouldn’t want to drive your car into the garage and have the door close on top of the car.
  • Close the door – Once you are successfully in the garage, you can close the door from the inside of the garage and place it in the closed position.

How Do I Open It From The Inside?

Opening your garage door from inside the garage is a fairly simple task. Let’s take a look below at what the steps are to accomplish this task.

  • Unlock the garage door – In some cases, homeowners use the bottom latches on the garage door to keep intruders out. You will need to unlock the latches to open the door.
  • Unplug the electric garage door opener – Unplug the garage door opener. This allows you to ensure that you won’t get shocked or electrocuted if the power is restored.
  • Emergency release cord – Find the red handle that hangs from the center rail. The red cord attaches the garage door to the trolley of the center rail.
  • Pull down on the cord – Once you have located the release lever, pull down on the cord to disconnect the door from the trolley.
  • Push or pull up – Lift the garage door by using the bars or center garage door handle to elevate the door up and open. Be sure the door is going to stay open or place some locking grips under the bottom wheels to keep the door in place.
  • Close the door – Once you have pulled your car into the garage, you can pull the door closed and lock the door with the manual locking bars.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you know how to manually open and close your garage door, you should consider reading up on how to tighten the garage door springs. This is a necessary part of garage door maintenance. You can always hire a professional if you aren’t comfortable with this task.

Next, another good part of garage door maintenance is understanding how to lubricate your garage door. This is necessary to keep the parts from sticking and not working properly. Keeping the parts greased and lubricated is necessary for their longevity.

Lastly, if all else fails with your garage door maintenance, consider researching when to replace your garage door. Planning for this project allows you to save your funds and not worry about the added expense.

When Do I Call A Professional?

When it comes to garage doors, you will almost always call on a professional garage door installation company to troubleshoot any of your issues. Additionally, reach out to your local home inspection team. If you are needing to manually open and close your garage door, you might have other underlying issues. Using your local home inspection team will allow you to find out exactly what’s going on with your garage door.


Garage doors can be finicky. They have so many working parts, that if not maintained, could break down and cause some issues. Consequently, most homeowners don’t realize the necessity to clean and grease the wheels and track of the garage door. If you want longevity out of your garage door and do not want to open and close it manually, simply maintain it. Reach out to Blue Guardian Home Inspections for a full home inspection in Kendall, Kane, Dupage, and LaSalle Counties of Illinois.