What do you get when you place an incandescent light in a closet and pile up a bunch of clothes and boxes? The IRC is very specific when it comes to clearances for lights in clothes closets. Homeowners can switch their incandescent light with a CFL light, which won’t get as hot. An even better idea is halogens bulbs because they are nearly as good as incandescents at rendering color, which is pretty important in clothes closets. To find out more, take a look at our new article on clothes closet lighting.
Owners of historical homes who want to make heir homes more energy efficient face some unique challenges, mainly because most modifications would clash with the home’s image. Certain districts even require permission before making small modifications. Yet there are some options – weatherstripping, insulation, storm windows and high-efficiency light bulbs generally reduce utility bills without taking anything away from the historic appeal of the house. Also, older homes are often more energy efficient than newer homes anyway; thick masonry, shade trees, awnings and skylights were common when many older homes were built, back when electricity could not be relied upon for heating and cooling. To find out more about this topic, check out our new article on enhancing energy efficiency in historic buildings.
Ever notice that ice dams don’t usually form on sheds and unoccupied houses? Interestingly, they only form when part of the roof is relatively warm, usually as a result of poor attic insulation or vents that terminate on the roof just above the snow. The main danger is that snow will melt, reach the ice dam and become blocked, where it will be forced to seep through the roof and into the house. There, it can soak and destroy insulation, rot timber, cause mold to grow and paint to peel and blister. There are a number of ways to tackle this problem, and hammering at the ice with an ice pick isn’t one of them. To find out more, check out our new article on ice dams.
You can estimate a building’s age in many ways. Are its structural panels OSB? It’s probably pretty new. Are the electrical receptors non-polarized? The house is probably older than you are. Are the nailed squared rather than rounded? The house might pre-date America. The year of construction might be printed on the meter reader or toilet in relatively new homes. Even the house style can be a clue to its age, you just need to read up on your architectural history. Look at at our new article on ways to determine the age of a building.
Ever hear of an ozone generator? These devices are used to pump ozone – a toxic gas – into a home or business in order to deodorize smells such as mold or tobacco smoke residue. Of course, you should never use one in an occupied space, even the manufacturers offer that warning. But the EPA and other agencies have tested the efficacy of these products and they found that many of the advertised capabilities of ozone are hype. Ozone doesn’t do anything against formaldehyde gas or carbon monoxide, it can damage fabrics and building materials and kill plants. And of the substances with which ozone does react, there is a potential for the formation of new, even more toxic or irritating indoor air pollutants. Be ready to tell your clients the facts about these things before they waste their money, check out our new article on ozone generator hazards.
Of all the forces of nature that threaten life and property, lightning might be the most dangerous; it is common almost everywhere, it strikes without warning and a direct hit can easily kill a person or burn down a house. But there are things that people can do to protect themselves from lightning, mainly through lightning protection systems such as simple lightning rods. Do you think the tips of lightning rods should be sharp or dull? Only recently did scientists solve this riddle and the answer might surprise you. Inspectors should note the presence of corrugated stainless steel tubing in homes, which has been blamed for house fires following lightning strikes. Check out our new article on lightning dangers in homes to find out more.
Grinder pumps are waste management devices required in buildings where the drain system is at a level below the municipal sewer line or septic tank. Wastewater is stored in a holding tank, ground into a fine slurry and then pumped to its destination. Although they are self-activating, homeowners should be aware of how they work so they don’t accidentally cause damage. There are certain precautions, for instance, that homeowners should take before going on vacation or during a power outage. Inspectors should be prepared to spot conditions that may damage the pump and pass on tips to their clients. To find out more, take a look at our new article on grinder pump inspection and maintenance.
Always be extra careful while inspecting homes that have been damaged by floods, as they pose unique dangers. Mold colonies, structural collapse, animals that have washed in (especially snakes!), broken glass and many more dangers may lurk in homes that have been damaged by floods. To find out more about safety advice for inspectors in flooded-damaged homes, take a look at our new article.
Ever inspect a house that stank of cigarettes? A lot of former smokers or people who live with smokers despise the lingering smell. The stench can even throw a wrench into the sale of an otherwise suitable home. Luckily, there are ways to remove or at least mask the smell, some of which require relatively little work. Vinegar, for instance, when left in bowls overnight can absorb tobacco smell. Of course, more intensive efforts such as repainting and tearing out the carpets will work as well, although homeowners might not want to deal with the expense or effort. To find out more about tobacco odor and how your clients may remove it from their houses, check out our new article on tobacco odor removal for inspectors.
I live in Colorado Springs and perform Home and Commercial inspections along the Front Range. In one of my home inspections I walked into a basement bedroom and was struck by a particular odor. It was that musty moldy odor one dreads, after further investigation I discovered a “frost proof” hose bib located in the ceiling along a back wall had not been so “frost proof”. In the photo below the split that is visible is due to a failed valve.
Note the length of this valve which is 18” long, the actual shut off is at the back of the valve which leaves 18” of pipe without water in it which is sufficient for winter conditions. This valve however had failed leaving water in the pipe and subject to freezing.
The owner had to remove the carpet, a section of drywall and insulation, mitigate the mold in the wall cavity and have these items replaced.
The question remains, is your “frost proof” hose bibs operating correctly?
One good check is to operate your hose bib, when shut off a small amount of water should drain out. This would be the water in the 18” of pipe, because remember the valve is in the back of the unit.
Even in the middle of winter we can have 60 degree weather which is a good time to water trees or wash your vehicle, don’t forget to disconnect the hose from your hose bib or you will be inviting disaster.
I hope this helps to prevent a catastrophe around your home or business.
Unwanted noise can enter a house from almost anywhere – other houses, the streets between them, or pass between rooms within a single house. The effects of these noises can range from mere annoyance to sleep disruption, compromised privacy or even hearing loss. As an inspector, you may notice situations in which noise transfer can be diminished, such as through a vibrating appliance or un-insinuated ductwork. Clients will always be grateful for tips that make them more comfortable in their homes. For more information, check out our new article on noise mitigation in buildings.
This introduction of the home maintenance book helps set the expectations of the home-buying client. – Ben Gromicko
Now it is time to keep it that way.
Just like the engine of an automobile, your house works as a system of independent parts. Every part has an impact to the operation of many other parts. A typical home has over 10,000 parts. What happens when all the parts work together in the most desirable, optimal way? You are rewarded with a house that is durable, comfortable, healthy and energy-efficient.
You can make it happen in just a few steps.
Step #1: Monitor the house
Step #2: Recognize potential problems
Step #3: Correct problems properly
This book will help you do all three steps.
If you hired a certified home inspector – that was a good decision and money well spent. As you know, the home inspector is not an expert but a generalist. Your home inspector inspected the home and reported the home’s condition as it was at the time of the inspection. That is the main responsibility of the home inspector. A home inspection does not include predictions of future events. Future events (such as roof leaks, water intrusion, plumbing drips and heating failures) are not within the scope of a home inspection and are not the responsibility of the home inspector.
Who’s responsible? You are. The new homeowner. Welcome to home ownership. The most important thing to understand as a new homeowner is that things break. As time moves on, parts of your house will wear out, break down, deteriorate, leak or simply stop working.
But relax. Don’t get overwhelmed. You’re not alone. This book is for you and every homeowner experiencing the responsibility of home ownership. Every homeowner has similar concerns and questions. And they are all related to home maintenance.
The following questions are those that all homeowners ask themselves:
#1 “What should I look for?”
#2 “What does a real problem look like?”
#3 “How should it be corrected?”
The answers to these questions are written in this book.
This book will guide you through the systems of a typical house, how they work and how to maintain them. The systems include the following: the exterior, interior, roof, structure, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, attic, insulation, bathroom and kitchen.
You will learn what to monitor (what to look for) as the house ages. Most of the conditions and events that you will see and experience will likely be cosmetic and minor. Most homes do not have major material defects.
Throughout the book, there will be references to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (www.InterNACHI.org). InterNACHI is the world’s largest trade association of residential and commercial building inspectors. The InterNACHI Residential Standards of Practice (SOP) defines what a home inspection is and lists the responsibilities of a home inspector. The SOP is located at http://www.nachi.org/sop.htm.
This book comments upon the responsibilities of a home inspector, because we are assuming that a home inspector has given you this book to read. Sometimes when a new homeowner is performing maintenance, apparent problems are discovered or revealed. Or as time goes by, things in the house leak or fail. A new homeowner experiencing a problem should refer to the Standards of Practice, which outlines the responsibilities and limitations of the home inspector.
The first nine chapters of this book describe the systems and components of a typical house.
Chapter 10 is about saving energy. This chapter describes how to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient by sealing air leaks and adding insulation —and you can do it yourself.
Chapter 11 has four maintenance checklists – one for each season.
Chapter 12 has a list of average life expectancies of systems, components and appliances in a typical home.
Home ownership is a great experience, and home maintenance is a great responsibility. This book will help you enjoy both.
Enjoy your house!
Read the first 32 pages and table of contents of the book at http://www.nachi.org/now.htm
When inspecting a garage door, I find it important really look at the hardware and shaking it before operating the door opener. I go all the way down the track moving it. I then move across the door (Making sure the latch is not latched) and on to the other track. Look for anything that may damage the door when you open it. Garage doors are very large objects and the last thing we want is for one to be damaged during operation. So Remember to give them a good shake before you push the button.
An infrared inspection of your roof can detect eveidence of latent moisture within your roof cavities and it can determine the potential for ice dams, plugged drains, and water retention that may cause roof damage and/or leakage which could lead to serious damage to your living area if not detected on-time. Roofing materials are very expensive to replace and the repairs can cost you roughly $20.00 or more a square foot. My infrared roof evaluation you can save you a bundle (in the long run) by knowing if certain roof sections need minor repair now to avoid major repair or replacement later, or to simply determine if the whole entire roof needs to be replaced in the not-so-distant future. Thermal imaging can give you the existing roof information in a nice neat visual package.
This EPDM roof looks great visually, but a major moisture build-up (under the rubber membrane) was easily detected utilizing my infrared camera.
During a home inspection, roof leaks are typically discovered by my direct observations and then confirmed by utilizing moisture meters on the sheathing below. But if I detect a moist area and the roof sheathing is not visible from below (such as a finished cathedral ceiling or a ceiling below a living area) the exact area of the leak can not be determined. Most homeowners have the misconception that moisture stains are caused from leaks that are directly above a wet area. It’s just not true in most situations. On gable roofs, some leaks occur at the ridge line area and cling to the rafters for quite a distance until it finally drips onto the ceiling below. In order for anyone to locate the exact area of the leak, the damaged ceiling must first be removed. This removal is necessary in order to “visualize” the exact intrusion point at the underside of the roof sheathing. Now before any of the ceilings can be removed, all the furniture must be removed from below the affected area. Then the floor must be protected from the falling debris and possibly requiring a scaffold system. All of this can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars! Infrared Thermography is an invaluable non-destructive and non-contact tool that can detect and pinpoint hidden roof leaks without even damaging the interior or exterior surfaces. Then once I pinpoint the problem area, minimum surface areas can be removed in order to make the necessary repairs.
I prefer to perform all exterior flat roof inspections in the early evening hours. In order to perform the infrared inspection correctly, I require solar heating of a hot sunny day to heat up the roof surface. Then in the early evening (after the sun goes down), the roof starts to cool allowing my infrared camera to be able to detect obvious thermal differences (anomalies) if there are any moisture intrusions within the roof surface. Thermal properties of water are very unique (high thermal capacity), allowing water to be thermally observed on the surface and on the underside of roofing materials. If water is actively seeping into the cavity of a roof surface, the dry roof insulation will cool much faster than the soggy wet roof insulation, making it possible for me to observe the thermal differences.
My infrared roof inspections have proven to be a beneficial option for testing sub-surface roof areas that can not be seen visually. Regularly scheduled infrared roof inspections will allow you to find moisture damage and water leaks that have not yet become apparent. This is the most cost-effective approach to any roof maintenance. I have the knowledge and experience to correctly acquire and interpret roof infrared inspection data to you and then provide you with a professional easy-to-understand infrared roof report within hours of your inspection.
Visually, this roof structure looks good, but infrared imaging detects anomalies immediately.
The source of this roof leak was unable to be located visually, but my infrared camera detected the exact source of the leak immediately.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Infrared imaging will detect concealed issues.
See more information regarding INFRARED and THERMAL IMAGING on my website at http://www.massinfrared.com