Garage Fire: What not to do

Featuring guest blogger: Rick SolomonGarage Fire

One of my neighbors just had a garage fire and it made me think: this is fire information we should all keep in mind. Plus check that your fire extinguisher is where you thought it was, and that it is still good. The following is what not to do if you smell gas.

My neighbor described the fire: ‘The fire started due to a hole/leak in the hose that delivered gas to a gas dryer. He could smell the gas and he ran his hand over the length of the line to find the hole and turned off the gas temporarily, then duct taped the hose until he could buy a replacement, turned the gas back on and tested the dryer. After running for no more that 60 seconds, the large vent hose caught on fire thus catching the garage on fire.  Luckily they had a fire extinguisher handy and no one was injured.

fire_extinguisher_servicesTwo things he learned.
#1. If you discover a leak in the gas line don’t try to patch it. Replace the line (our 4′ replacement cost $28 at Home Depot) and keep the gas turned off and DON’T use the dryer until then.
#2. Get a bigger (or more) fire extinguishers than you think you need. Time is precious in a fire, and even if an extinguisher doesn’t fully put out a fire, it still give precious seconds until you and your family can escape or until the fire dept. arrives.’

Advice from the neighborhood expert Rick Solomon: Gas inside the home is relatively safe. It gives you the warning you have a leak based on the smell that is emitted. Gas is also lighter than air and dissipates. The problem was when you duct taped it, the corrugated gas flex didn’t allow the tape to fully seal. When the dryer started, there was an electronic glow plug folled by the flame of the dryer. Either 1 of them would be able to ignite any gas leaking in the vicinity of the heat source.

Technically gas is only coming into the house at approx 7″ of water column / approx 1/3 of a pound of pressure. Whereas water pressure is approx. 60-65 pounds within the house.

A simple test for a gas leak is the sniff test or a soap test. Mix up approx 10% liquid soap to clean water in a sprayer bottle. Then spray onto the suspected are of the pipe or connector. A leak will cause the soapy solution to make bubbles. Find the leak and either tighten the connection or shut off the gas serving that appliance. There is no legal miracle tape or glue for gas leaks.

Don’t use any soap solutions that contain ammonia as it will deteriorate some of the pipe and flex connectors we use in plumbing systems.

Rick Solomon from Rick Solomon Plumbing

(310) 836-1437  License # 00743321

Based out of Los Angeles and founded in 1981, Rick Solomon Plumbing is a plumbing contractor and provides plumbing inspection, septic tank services, water purification system installation, and shower installation. They are licensed by the state of California. Rick Solomon Plumbing is insured and bonded. They provide emergency services.

Remember: It’s good to have 1-2 fire extinguishers in the house.

Free Money for Home Upgrades

Home Energy Upgrade Programs
Home Energy Upgrade Programs

Have you been thinking about a home project for a long time and  not had enough money to throw into the project?  Your windows are old and inefficient, your walls have little to no insulation, your air conditioning and heating unit hardly works…..  There are tons of programs available to help you switch to more efficient systems and get money to help you replace them.  But there are way too many programs to actually figure out.

SoCalGas has started a program where they match you up with a coordinator that can help you navigate through these programs.  THIS IS THE BIGGEST HELP THAT WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR!!!  I highly recommend EVERYONE call to see where you can find free money to make your home better.  You will have your own personal Home Energy Advisor.

Are you interested in making your home more efficient?

If you are, you will be excited to learn SoCalGas is funding a pilot program that offers free Home Energy Advising for eligible homeowners.

Home Energy Advising Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: I’m a homeowner interested in making my home more efficient and more comfortable while lowering my bills. How do I do that?

A: An Energy Upgrade might be just what you’re looking for! But where to start? Call toll free at (888) 382-2925 to be connected to a SoCalGas Home Energy Advisor.

Q: So what is “Home Energy Advising”?

A: Home Energy Advising is free, highly customized and ongoing expert phone-based assistance to eligible homeowners.

Q: What does Home Energy Advising offer?

A: Home Energy Advising provides eligible homeowners:

Incentive program referral
Expert technical advise
Assistance reviewing bids
Incentive paperwork assistance
And more!
Q: How do I find out if I am eligible?

A: Call (888) 382-2925 to be connected to your Home Energy Advisor. But hurry! Space is limited!

Further information can be found here:

SoCalGas Energy Upgrade Program
SoCalGas Energy Upgrade Program

TELL GEORGE I SENT YOU AND PLEASE LET ME KNOW HOW YOUR EXPERIENCE GOES!!!  I am still getting lots of questions about the cash for gas program which I got a rebate of $3,300 back for removing my lawn.  The rebate amount is now $3/sq ft so you can get even more.

Follow my cash for grass process here: 

Flip Your Home Can Help

Flip Your Home

We don’t want to buy your home, we want to help you sell it for more money! 

Flip Your Home

Flip Your Home is a team of real estate and remodeling experts getting sellers maximum profits by connecting investors to pay for renovations.

You own or inherited a home that is or has become too difficult to maintain.  The systems are old, outdated, and potentially unsafe.  You might want to unload the property or retire to an easier life, but can’t sell the house getting the profits you need.  You might be over your head and feel helpless, but Flip Your Home can help you find the hidden gold hidden in your property.

You could fix up your own property for resale, but you don’t have the money, time or skill to renovate a home. Meanwhile, the biggest investment you ever made left you penniless and hopeless.  WE ARE NOT TRYING TO BUY YOUR HOME!

 What if we could get an investor to pay for renovations to your home and you could split the profits when it sells? The investor pays for the construction and everyone comes out ahead at the end of the transaction when your house sells for more than the current, unrenovated value.

 Your investment is your home — There is NO COST TO YOU. The Flip Your Home team uses its knowledge of the market, investors and contractors to create a marketable home.  We are professional home designers, builders and marketers who have years of experience flipping homes.

We work WITH your home, managing the process every step of the way, to renovate and sell your home for maximum value.

With the Flip Your Home program investors partner with the homeowner. The homeowner’s part of the investment is their home: you, as the investor, provide money for the renovations. The profits get divided between you and the homeowner with a small Flip Your Home service fee

Each deal is individually negotiated. All projects must be pre-qualified. Each investment is a risk and no profits are guaranteed.

(844) 2 FLP HOM (844) 235 – 7466
© Copyright 2014 Flip Your Home LLC. All rights reserved.

SoCalGas’ Home Energy Advising Program

I was just contacted by SoCal Gas Energy Advisor, George Kopf.  They are working on connecting homeowners with people that can walk them through the different programs for rebates and incentives for energy upgrades.  How great is that to have someone to help you understand all of the options out there.  Here is the information he sent me.

SoCalGas Energy Upgrade Program
SoCalGas Energy Upgrade Program

Details on SoCalGas funded Pilot Programs

SoCalGas is funding two pilot programs that should interest every Real Estate Professional in southern California:

The Home Energy Advising pilot program provides independent expert advice and assistance for homeowners performing an energy upgrade to their home.



Are you interested in making your home more efficient?

If you are, you will be excited to learn SoCalGas is funding a pilot program that offers free Home Energy Advising for eligible homeowners.

Home Energy Advising Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: I’m a homeowner interested in making my home more efficient and more comfortable while lowering my bills.  How do I do that?

A: An Energy Upgrade might be just what you’re looking for! But where to start? Call toll free to be connected to a SoCalGas Home Energy Advisor, George Kopf,  (888) 382-2925 or

Q: So what is “Home Energy Advising”?

A: Home Energy Advising is free, highly customized and ongoing expert phone-based assistance to eligible homeowners who are interested in making their home more efficient and comfortable through an energy upgrade.

Q: What does Home Energy Advising offer?

A: Home Energy Advising provides eligible homeowners:

Education on the ability of energy upgrades to make their home more comfortable, durable, valuable, safe, healthy, and efficient.
Assistance in determining the availability of incentives for energy upgrades, the options for financing their upgrade, and the qualifications of participating contractors.
Ongoing assistance moving forward with their project: help selecting incentive programs, expert technical advise, assistance reviewing bids, completing incentive paperwork, etc.

Q: Sounds great! So who is eligible?

A: The free Home Energy Advising service is a SoCalGas funded pilot program for homeowners who are SoCalGas customers and receive their electricity from a municipal electric utility (LADWP, Riverside Public Utilities, Glendale Water & Power, Burbank Water & Power, etc.).

Q: How do I find out if I am eligible?

A: Call (888) 382-2925 to be connected to your Home Energy Advisor. But hurry! Space is limited!  Make sure to tell George I sent you!

Home Energy Upgrade Programs
Home Energy Upgrade Programs

Altbuild Water 2014

Altbuild WaterSaturday, April 12, 2014

Santa Monica College,
Bundy Campus


10 AM – 3 PM

AltBuild Presents With TreePeople
10:30 AM
Join Andy Lipkis, founder of TreePeople, as he discusses water in the Southland. We are in the middle of a historic drought. Find out what is being done and what WE can do about it.

Beth Pratt, NWF California Director, National Wildlife Federation
Lily Singer, TPF Director of Special Projects & Adult Education, Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants
Larry Santoyo, EarthFlow Design Works
Marilee Kuhlmann, Comfort Zones Garden Design
Pamela Berstler, The Green Garden Group

11:30 AM
Come enjoy cake and help celebrate TreePeople’s
40th Anniversary!

12:00 PM
Learn about Native Bees of California from expert
Hartmut Wisch

10 AM – 3 PM
• Additional Speaker sessions
• Demos and Exhibits featuring:
Lawn removal • Wildlife garden creation • Drip irrigation
installation • Planting native and low water landscapes •
Beekeeping • Backyard veggie gardens • Compost • Greywater • Rain harvest • All current rebate opportunities from regional utilities • Garden products, plants and rain barrels for sale on-site

Considering Going Solar? 5 Reasons it May be Home Investment Worthy

By guest writer Naomi J. Shaw

Solar Panels on HomeHomeowners always wonder about two things: How to be more economically conscious and more environmentally friendly. With the rising cost of, well, everything, homeowners are looking at ways they can conserve energy and spend less on their utility bills. Add to this economic concern the fact that the environment is in a dire state of affairs and many people are also trying to reduce their carbon footprint.

One option that answers both of these concerns: solar power. It seems like the obvious choice – using the power of the sun to power your home. It is environmentally and economically friendly, yet most homeowners are still using fossil fuels.

Here are five reasons why you should seriously consider harnessing the power of the sun.

It’s More Cost Effective

How much do you spend on your electric or gas bill each month? If your family is like most, it’s likely that you shell out a pretty penny. Now, imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have to pay those bills each month. How much would you save? When you go solar, you don’t have to pay as much for your energy: it’s as simple as that! You are literally using the power of the sun and converting it into energy for your home. Since the sun’s rays are free, well, you get the idea. Now, the only question is deciding what you would do with all of those savings.

You Get Money Back

Not only will you lower energy bills, you have the opportunity to earn money back when you go solar. Going solar lets you earn a nice tax incentive and rebates. Plus, since you are producing energy, anything extra that you produce will go to your local utility provider, and you’ll receive a credit back for the energy that you provide. Saving money and making money at the same time? You can’t beat that combination!

Solar Panels for Your Home?
Solar Panels for Your Home?

Earth Friendly

Fossil fuels are nonrenewable – and have a hazardous impact on the environment. The big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago was devastating for the environment and don’t get me started on Fukushima. When you go solar, you reduce your carbon footprint significantly. That, in itself, is a fantastic reason to go solar.

Limitless Power

The power of the sun is available most days, so you won’t have to worry about running out of power. Many times homeowners use batteries or remain hooked up to the utilities for times with no sun. You can go solar and use as much energy as you can from the sun and only rely on other power sources when needed.

Boost Your Home Value

If you’re looking to boost the value of your home because you’re thinking of selling it down the line, then choosing solar is very beneficial. In fact, a solar system can boost the value of your home by a whopping $20,000 for every $1,000 that is reduced in operating costs, according to AirSolar.

So, are you still wondering whether going solar is the right option for you and your family? If you are concerned about the initial cost, there are incentive programs available. These programs can help fund your solar installation and you can receive your tax rebates and incentives – talk about making switching to solar worth your while!

Naomi Shaw is a freelance writer in Southern California. She and her family are considering making the switch to solar, because she loves how much money it would save in the long-term. She works alongside Ovlix, helping other families find their dream homes! 

Greening Your Home

Green Your Home
Being healthy is about much more then just your body, it also includes contributing to the health of the planet and creating healthy living environments to reside within. I am a green realtor. I help people buy, build and create healthy homes. In this multi-part series I will be sharing with the Wholesome2go family ways to green your space. There are many options to accomplish this goal; you can build green from the ground up, green remodel, and find more subtle and easy ways to create healthier dwellings. In this first part, let’s start with some easy steps you can do right away in the home you have now.

Hopefully you have heard most of these before, but a reminder might get you implementing the basics to save you money, lower your carbon footprint, and live a more healthy life.

Control your temperature: By lowering your home’s heat to the very lowest you can handle in the winter and highest you can stand in the summer will save money and energy. I like to keep my heater set to 74 degrees in the winter and 78 in the summer. If possible, get a programmable thermostat that will turn your system off or down when you aren’t going to be home or are sleeping. If you have a large home and only sleep in one room, I suggest using a space heater for that room at night. Turn off your main HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) system whenever possible and make sure your air filters and ducts are clean for the best air quality and highest efficiency.

Lower the temperature on your hot water heater: If installing a tankless hot water heater is not a possibility, lower the temperature to between 120 and 140 degrees. Turn off your water heating device if you are going to be out of town and not using it for long periods of time. (In cold climates do what is necessary to prevent your pipes from freezing.) Wrap your hot water pipes and heater in insulating material to increase efficiency and reduce heat loss.

Change those bulbs: You have heard it before and hopefully you have changed most of your lights to Compact Florescent Lights already. Here are a couple of ideas you might not have known or considered. You CAN buy energy efficient light bulbs that work on dimmers and have tinted light. Check the labels when you purchase. Consider LED lightbulbs. They are even more energy efficient, turn on immediately and have warmer light tones. If you have tried CFLs and didn’t like them, give LEDs a shot. Put as many lights as you can on dimmers so they use less energy when in use. Please be aware that CFLs are considered hazardous material and should be disposed of properly.

Save water: Though Los Angeles is not technically a desert, we are water impaired. We have far too large a population and too much industry for us to sustain our current usage levels. We must all be conscious of this and conserve. I am sure we all have low flow shower heads and water saving toilets (they are required on Los Angeles properties). If you are not able to install duel flush toilets (my favorite) there are other options. You can “damn” your toilet by putting a weighted plastic bottle (people used to use bricks) in your tank so it uses less water when you flush. Or you can do what my parents used to say to me, “If it’s brown, flush it down. If it’s yellow, leave it mellow.” Practice this within reason of course.

Get rid of that lawn: There are some beautiful and much more climate friendly options for landscaping today. Use some imagination and work with our Mediterranean climate. Try options like xeriscaping or using foliage that doesn’t need supplemental irrigation and native plants, rock or rain gardens. Make your yard your masterpiece. Use rainwater collection or grey water and drip systems whenever possible. You will find some very easy to implement.

Put down that paper: You don’t need a new sheet of paper for everything you write. Keep a stack of paper that have clean backsides next to your printer to use whenever possible. Use the backs of paper you are finished with as scratch paper. Old newspapers and a great way to clean windows streak free. When you do need fresh sheets of paper, buy recycled paper. If we don’t support the recycling programs by purchasing their products, we are not completing the cycle.

Consider microfiber cloths: or scrap clothing for cleaning and drying. We don’t need to use paper towels for everything. And again, buy recycled paper towels, you must support the recycling programs with your patronage. Personally, I think Trader Joe’s recycled toilet paper is the best paper one can buy. (Hate to be personal, but you should try it.)

Slay the vampires: An energy vampire is an electronic device that continues to “suck” energy even when turned off. For instance, if you have a VCR with a display or stand-by light that remains on when turned off, it is using energy. It would be great to have a house that was wired to turn all unused power off when not needed. However that is unfeasible for most of us. Consider putting vampires on a surge protector or power strip. This way you can simply switch off the electronics when not in use. Keep things that must remain plugged in, like clocks or DVRs, in the main outlet, but put that TV and DVD player in the second bedroom that you never use on the surge protector and keep it off.

Be an appliance star: If you can, buy only energy star rated appliances that are more efficient. Run appliances when only when full and after 7 pm. There is a reason energy usage is cheaper at night, take advantage of the smaller burden on the grid and save money at the same time. Get rid of that old second refrigerator in the garage. You replaced it to be more energy efficient, then you kept it for extra storage. Take the leap and get rid of it for good.

Know your bins: The city of Los Angeles has a wonderful environmental programs. I bet you don’t even know how great the waste system is. Go to their website LA City Bureau of Sanitation and see just how many things you can recycle, I promise you will be surprised. Is composting too hard or not your thing? Put fruit and vegetable clippings in the green bin.

At this point I am sure you all are completely overwhelmed. Try to implement these changes little by little and don’t become so daunted that you are paralyzed. I would rather you make 5 small changes then intend to do all and complete none. As mentioned, this is a multi part series and the next installment will suggest physical changes you can make to green your home. For more information on these ideas and help selling, purchasing or remodeling green homes please visit

For more information on general energy conservation go to the following websites:
Measure your Carbon Footprint

The Solar Site Audit

The second step of the process in getting solar installed happened today. Two very nice men came out to give my home a solar audit. This was a multi step process where they measured, evaluated and poked and prodded my home’s dark secret spaces. They put their results in their trusted computer and out came the specs needed to furnish my home with solar power.

First they spent a couple of hours on the roof measuring, checking the direction of the sun and calculating how many panels would be needed. They plotted exactly where the panels would go, what angle and checked the roof for structural and maintenance issues. I happen to have a nice, flat, fairly-new roof that passed the test. It should be perfect for the right amount of panels to power up our home.

Next they checked the electrical panel on the home. Our panel is not the absolute ideal because it doesn’t have as many free spaces as it needs. However the guys said they might be able to re-configure what is there to find the needed space. They got the numbers to work out on their calculations, they just need to have the architects’ findings work out the same.  They thought everyone could make it work.  Let’s hope they are right.

Next they went into the attic and drew out a plan of all of the load baring walls. They need to have exact measurements of all of the beams and structural walls so the architect can draw up the structural plans for our solar system. They took pictures and drew out a map for them to work from. This should give them the framework to build our system.

Last but not least, they needed to test our internet connection and make sure they could connect the new solar system to the internet. From here they will be able to monitor our system from afar. (Our friend that recommended Solar City to us said that Solar City has spotted issues online that they didn’t even notice and called and had them corrected. SC is watching, even if you aren’t.)

Now all of these figures and measurements are sent back to the Solar City engineers and architects and they come up with a plan for our house. This should take about a month to do. They will come back with a complete diagram of how many panels we need, where they will be located, how they will connect to the electrical grid and internet. We will also soon be getting the rebate information from the LADWP and the finances will be set.

Check back to follow the progress and let me know if you would like a referral to Solar City. We are thrilled with the process thus far and highly recommend a lease vs. a purchase.

For more information please call John Garand the senior solar consultant at SolarCity at 650.963.5686 or email him at  The web address is  And please remember to tell him that Heather Leikin referred you.

Go to the following link for more information:

Upgrade Your House, Downgrade Your Carbon Footprint

Energy Upgrade™ California

Rebates Homepage | For Contractors

New incentives for energy-efficient home improvements
Energy Upgrade California is a new incentive program for shared customers of Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and Southern California Edison (SCE).

Incentives of up to $4,000 are available to shared SoCalGas and SCE customers who complete certain energy-saving home improvements. With a variety of participation options, you can increase comfort, improve indoor air quality and possibly save money on your utility bills. 1

Why upgrade?
Many air leaks in homes are fairly obvious, such as around windows, doors and electrical outlets. But others, like those in attics, around chimneys, and through recessed lighting fixtures, are often the more significant sources of energy loss in a home. Energy upgrades will help to optimize your home’s energy efficiency. You could also enjoy these benefits:

Realize long-term energy savings
Help reduce greenhouse gases
Increase indoor comfort
Improve indoor air quality
Which projects are eligible?
Each home’s needs are unique, so a variety of upgrades are available, depending on what’s best for you.

To participate in either the Basic or Advanced Upgrade Packages, you must meet these requirements:

Own a single-family detached home
Be a customer of both SoCalGas and SCE
Use a participating program contractor
Some counties are offering rebates in addition to SoCalGas and SCE incentives. Check with your local county office for more information.

Basic Upgrade Package

You can receive $1,000 when you complete the following improvements:

Blower-door-based air sealing
Attic insulation (min. R-38 all accessible areas)
Pipe wrap for all accessible domestic hot water heater piping
Duct sealing (If duct system present)
Low flow showerhead with thermostatic flow restriction valve control or thermostatic flow restriction valve control device
Combustion safety test
Advanced Upgrade Package

You can receive between $1,250 and $4,0002 in incentives by completing the Basic Upgrade Package improvements, plus installing a variety of approved energy-efficient measures to meet a minimum energy savings of 10%-40%:

Wall insulation
Proper sizing of hot water system
Heating and cooling system upgrade
Other permanently affixed improvements, such as these:
Cool Roofs
Radiant barrier
Energy savings will be based on a modeling simulation performed by the participating contractors. This consists of a comparison of your home’s energy/thermal usage prior to and following the completion of package improvements.

Program Contact
To sign up for more information and updates about Energy Upgrade California, visit *

Getting started: Home Energy Efficiency Survey
Before starting home upgrade projects, it’s a good idea to learn how to improve the way you consume energy in your home. Take a 15 minute survey and get customized energy-saving tips!

Take the Home Energy Efficiency Survey
Available Financing Options and Federal Tax Credits
To help offset the cost of some of these improvements, there are various financing options available. For more information on financing opportunities, visit our Home Energy Upgrade Financing page.

Federal Tax Credits on certain improvements are also available through December 31, 2011. Visit the ENERGY STAR® website * for more information.

Information for Contractors
Are you interested in becoming an Energy Upgrade California participating contractor?

Visit our Contractors page
*By clicking the link, you will leave and transfer directly to the website of a third party provider which is not part of the Southern California Gas Company. The Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy on that website will apply.

1 Monthly bill reduction assumes average usage and conditions. Actual savings may vary.

Required savings reduction will be based on a comparison of prior energy/thermal usage and energy/thermal usage following completion of program measures.

2 Additional rebates, offerings or services may be offered by certain counties or cities within SoCalGas’ territory. Check with your local government offices to find out if they are offering additional incentives above and beyond SoCalGas’ incentive amount.

Program participation is limited to customers of both Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) and Southern California Edison (SCE) only. Eligible residences must have a valid SoCalGas and SCE billing address and account. Participation is limited to one incentive payment per household. Pre and post inspections may be required to qualify for the incentives. Program is subject to change or cancellation without prior notice.

This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by Southern California Gas Company under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. This program may be modified or terminated without prior notice and is provided to qualified customers on a first-come, first-served basis until program funds are no longer available. Southern California Gas Company is not responsible for any goods or services selected by the customer.