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.