Identifying and describing heating systems.

Home inspectors run across many different types of heating systems.  Each of them have their own characteristics that can be used by an inspector to identify and describe the type of heating system being inspected. Most of these heating systems can be described according to one or more of the following broad categories:
  • the heat-conveying medium;
  • the fuel used;
  • the nature of the heat; and
  • the efficiency and capacity of the system.

To learn more about identifying and describing heating systems, read my new article.

U.S. Department of Education study shows online education better than classroom education.

A recent U.S. Department of Education, 93-page report on online education concluded:
“On average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”
The report examined the comparative research on online versus traditional classroom teaching from 1996 to 2008. Some of it was in K-12 settings, but most of the comparative studies were done in colleges and adult continuing-education programs of various kinds, from medical training to the military.
Over the 12-year span, the report found 99 studies in which there were quantitative comparisons of online and classroom performance for the same courses.  Click here to find out what the analysis by the Department of Education discovered.

Defrost Cycle of a Heat Pump

Do you know how the defrost cycle of a heat pump works?
When a heat pump is operating in the heating mode or heat cycle, the outdoor air is relatively cool and the outdoor coil acts as an evaporator.  Under certain conditions of temperature and relative humidity, frost might form on the surface of the outdoor coil.  The layer of frost will interfere with the operation of the heat pump by making the pump work harder and, therefore, inefficiently.  The frost must be removed.  A heat pump has a cycle called a defrost cycle, which removes the frost from the outdoor coil.
A heat pump unit will defrost regularly when frost conditions occur.  The defrost cycle should be long enough to melt the ice, and short enough to be energy-efficient.
In the defrost cycle, the heat pump is automatically operated in reverse, for a moment, in the cooling cycle.  This action temporarily warms up the outdoor coil and melts the frost from the coil.  In this defrost cycle, the outdoor fan is prevented from turning on when the heat pump switches over, and the temperature rise of the outdoor coil is accelerated and increased.

Click here to read about the Defrost Cycle of a Heat Pump.

Inspecting Furnaces

A home inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of a residential dwelling that is designed to identify observed material defects within specific components of that dwelling.  Part of the home inspection includes the inspection, identification and description of the heating system.
The inspector is required to inspect the heating systems using normal operating controls, and describe the energy source and heating method. The inspector’s report shall describe and identify, in written format, the inspected heating system and shall identify material defects observed.
In order to perform an inspection according to InterNACHI’s residential Standards of Practice, an inspector must apply the knowledge of what the inspector understands about the different types of residential heating systems.  To fully inspect and identify a particular heating system, describe its heating method, and identify any material defects observed, an inspector should be able to explain:
  • the heating system;
  • its heating method;
  • its type or identification;
  • how the heating system operates;
  • how to maintain it; and
  • the common problems that may be found.

This article will help the home inspector explain the furnace to his/her clients.  Click here to read the entire article: Inspecting Furnaces.

New article on green lumber

Most homes are built using green lumber, which is just another term for wood that is still wet. The problem is that when wet wood dries it’s going to shrink, and when parts of your house shrink it can mean trouble. Nail pops are sometimes caused by wood shrinkage, although this isn’t a serious problem. Mold, however, can easily grow on green lumber and infest the wood before it’s even used in construction. For more information, take a look at our new article on green lumber.

New article on tie-downs for manufactured homes

Manufactured homes, also known as mobile homes, must be tied down so they stay stable during windstorms. There are two different ways to tie them down and each way has its advantages and disadvantages. Inspectors may want to know the basics about how they operate, especially in wind-prone areas such as Florida. To find out more check out our new article on tie-downs for manufactured homes.

New article on wood decay

10% of all wood produced in the US is used to replace wood that has decayed. We aren’t talking about insect damage or UV damage, wood decay is caused solely by fungi. Fortunately, it’s preventable. Fungi needs four things to survive – water, oxygen, a food source, and a correct temperature window. If you remove one of these, fungi cannot survive and decay will not take place. Of these, water is the easiest thing to take away. Dry wood will not support fungi that cause decay. Inspectors should know the most common locations for wood decay as well as ways to identify decay and distinguish it from damage caused by insects. For more information, check out our new article on wood decay.