Aerogel as high performance insulation?

Aerogel was invented 1931, it is a porous solid material that is strong and does not conduct heat.

Performance as an insulator:

Composed almost entirely of gas, which is a poor heat conductor, aerogel can almost nullify the three methods of heat transfer (conduction, convection and radiation). Boasting an R-value of 10 to 30, NASA has used the material to protect astronauts and equipment, such as the Mars Rover, from the extreme cold of space. As compared to conventional insulation material, the R-values of vermiculite, rockwool, fiberglass and cellulose are approximately 2.13, 3.1, 3 and 3.1, respectively. Silica aerogel is especially valuable because silica is also a poor conductor of heat.  A metallic aerogel, on the other hand, would be less useful as an insulator.

To read the full story click on link below.

Aluminum wiring in homes

One item I inspect in my home inspections  is for the use of single strand aluminum wiring that was used in place of copper wiring  between 1965 and 1973 .

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), “Homes wired with aluminum wire manufactured before 1972 [‘old technology’ aluminum wire] are 55 times more likely to have one or more connections reach “Fire Hazard Conditions” than is a home wired with copper.”

The presence of single-strand aluminum wiring may void a home’s insurance policies.
for more information on aluminum wiring go to   http://www.nachi.org/aluminum-wiring.htm

10 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home

I found these easy steps on the InterNACHI website “10 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home“.
Here are ten steps from the the article:

  • Find better ways to heat and cool your house.
  • Install a tankless water heater.
  • Replace incandescent lights.
  • Seal and insulate your home.
  • Install efficient showerheads and toilets.
  • Use appliances and electronics responsibly.
  • Install day lighting as an alternative to electrical lighting.
  • Insulate windows and doors.
  • Cook smart.
  • Change the way you do laundry.

Problem Roofing Materials

FireFree® Plus PMFC (Polymer Modified Fiber Cement) roofing, which is rated a Class A fire-rated material, is made from a blend of cement, cellulose fiber and aggregate materials.  The individual roof tiles are coated with a polymer resin that penetrates below the surface layer and encapsulates all six sides of the material.
The roofing shakes in question were manufactured between 1993 and 1997, and are now off the market.  The two product lines of FireFree® Plus roofing — Rustic Shake and Quarry Slate — were produced in a limited variety of colors.  The Rustic Shake line was molded to resemble rough-sawn or split cedar shake, and the Quarry Slate line was molded to resemble traditional slate roofing.
As with all cement-based products, FireFree® roofing products are subject to breakage due to the fact that the products cure longer than others.  This results in a slightly stiffer product that is more capable of withstanding breakage usually associated with shipping, delivery and roof loading.  However, the materials are more brittle, which presents breakage concerns during installation.
Because the tiles are tapered from the bottom edge to the top, they are more brittle at the top.  Breakage may occur if walked on, even by experienced roofing specialists or contractors.  Under common roofing conditions, this is not a problem as the top of the tile is covered by the next applied row.  However, a  edges can exist when the tiles are installed in a valley, which can leave the top edges and untreated cut exposed to the elements.    In order to positively identify problems, the tiles must be removed, and problem replacement or repair is rather difficult.  Photo  below was taken during a home inspection in Colorado Springs.

Woodruf™ roof shingles, a fiberboard roofing product, were a Masonite™ roofing product consisting of “pressure bonded fibers designed to resemble natural cedar roofing” sold in the United States into the 1990′s and have also been found installed on homes in Canada.

The roofing shingle product was produced in four-foot sections that were 12″ wide and with a nominal thickness of 7/16″. The actual thickness varies due to raised ridges that give Woodruf shingles the appearance of a wood shake or shingle.

Our sources indicate that Woodruf shingles were marketed with a 40 year life expectancy. As of this artcle’s last update (July 2010) there is no warranty service remaining on this roofing product.

The Woodruf™ shingle fiberboard was treated with a water repellant and a bonding agent to permit outdoor exposure. This product is softer than Masonite’s hardboard products and to remain durable required an installation that permitted good roof drying (similar to the requirement for wood shingles or shakes). This is particularly true because the factory edges as well as any cut edges made during installation were not sealed.

Masonite Woodruf roofing was intended for steep slope roofs and should not be installed on slopes lower than 4″ of rise in 12″ of run (a 4/12 roof). The shingles were to be installed over roofing felt on a sound roof deck, with a 9″ shingle exposure and requiring eight nails per roofing panel.  photo seen below

 

T-lock shingle is an interlocking shingle that doesn’t have a tar strip but instead uses an interlocking design to hold them in place. T-Locks have been widely believed to be more wind-resistant than seal-down shingles because of the overlap system, but they are frequently assigned the same tested wind-resistance rating as a 3-tab or architectural shingle of the same warranty period. T-Lock shingles have been discontinued by the manufacturer and can no longer be repaired as material is no longer available. T-Lock shingles were discontinued in 2006 and as such trying to find replacement shingles for your roof is next to impossible.  Photo seen below was taken in Colorado Springs.

 


InterNACHI Home Energy Score

Initially launched in November 2010, the DOE’s Home Energy Scoring Program is aimed at “…giving American families the tools they need to invest in home energy upgrades,” according to Vice President Joe Biden. The program’s ultimate goals include putting less demand on public utilities and natural resources, and helping homeowners save money on their energy bills, which will potentially make them eligible for discounts on home supplies and even insurance coverage.

The Home Energy Score will be a quick way for homeowners to understand how their home’s energy performance compares to that of others in the same region. And, the Home Energy Score will be more than just a simple number or label. Along with the score will come customized recommendations for simple energy upgrades, intensive energy audits, as well as an estimate of how much energy improvements can reduce the homeowner’s utility bills.

InterNACHI Energy Ratings Will Benefit Homeowners
Homeowners often find that energy improvements can dramatically improve the comfort and integrity of their homes, so it makes sense for homeowners to act as soon as possible to enhance their quality of life. Using the InterNACHI Energy Rating, home inspectors can assess areas in the home for energy improvement and make specific, cost-effective recommendations to clients so that they can develop a specific plan of action to address their home’s energy deficits.  Whether they’ve lived in their home for years or have just moved in, all homeowners and prospective homeowners can benefit from a home energy inspection.

By getting an InterNACHI Energy Rating performed by a specially trained InterNACHI inspector, homeowners can quickly learn how to save energy and money, while also seeing how their home ranks compared to others in the area.  After the homeowner makes energy improvements, the home’s energy efficiency is likely to increase.  So, similar to radon testing that is performed both before and after mitigation, homeowners can ask their contractor to include a post-upgrade assessment as part of the energy improvement package to compare pre- and post-upgrade scores.

An InterNACHI Energy Rating can help homeowners understand how to integrate energy upgrades into a home renovation project or addition. When done as part of a larger project, it makes sense to have the home inspected before and after work is done so the homeowner can verify that the home’s energy performance has improved. The Rating serves as a way to document these improvements, thereby enhancing the home’s appeal and value when it’s ready to sell.

To perform a Home Energy Inspection, the inspector conducts a brief walk-through of the home and collects 45 data points related to home energy.

The inspector then enters the data into a web-based energy calculator developed by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy to:

  • estimate the home’s yearly energy usage;
  • pinpoint potential energy inefficiencies;
  • calculate a score based on these estimates; and
  • develop recommendations for energy improvements.
The house is scored on a scale from 1 to 100.  A 100 would represent a home with perfect energy performance whereas a 1 would represent a home that needs significant energy upgrades. This score can be used to compare homes.

A higher score generally means a lower energy bill and a more efficient home (with less of an environmental impact).

 

 

 

Maintaining Your Gutter System

Water from the roof reaches the ground through gutters and downspouts or by flowing directly off roof edges. Because downspouts create concentrated sources of water in the landscape, where they discharge is important. Downspouts should not discharge where water will flow directly on or over a walk, driveway or stairs. The downspouts on a hillside building should discharge on the downhill side of the building. The force of water leaving a downspout is sometimes great enough to damage the adjacent ground, so some protection at grade such as a
splash block or a paved drainage chute is needed.   Water that flows directly off a roof lacking gutters and downspouts can cause damage below. Accordingly, some provision in the landscaping may be needed, such as a gravel bed or paved drainage way.

The rule of thumb for downspouts: at least one downspout for each 40 feet (12 m) of gutter. For roofs with gutters, make sure that downspouts discharge so water will drain away from the foundation. Downspouts can be checked for size. Seven square inches is generally the minimum except for small roofs or canopies. There should be attachments or straps at the top, at the bottom, and at each intermediate joint. Downspout fasteners can rust, deform, fail or become loose. On buildings with multiple roofs, one roof sometimes drains to another roof. Where that happens, water should not be discharged directly onto roofing material. The best practice is to direct water from higher gutters to discharge into lower gutters through downspout pipes. Wooden gutters are especially susceptible to rot and deterioration and should be monitored. Pitched roofs in older buildings may end at a parapet wall with a built-in gutter integrated with the roof flashing. At this location, drainage is accomplished by a scupper (a metal-lined opening through the parapet wall that discharges into a leader head box that in turn discharges to a downspout). The leader head box should have a strainer. Check the scupper for deterioration and open seams. All metal roof flashings, scuppers, leader head boxes and downspouts should be made of similar metals.

Homeowner maintenance includes cleaning the leaves and debris from the roof’s valleys, gutters and downspouts. Debris in the valleys can cause water to wick under the shingles and cause damage to the interior of the roof. Clogged rain gutters can cause water to flow back under the shingles on the eaves and cause damage, regardless of the roofing material. This condition can occur with composition shingle, wood shake, tile or metal. In the winter if drainage systems are clogged this moisture that has wicked under the roof covering can create a ice dam and cause damage to your roof system.

Inspect the downspouts to make sure they are clean, clogged downspouts will cause the same damage.If downspouts are underground, make sure the area of discharge is cleared of grass  and other plant material.  If the discharge area is blocked water can back up into the downspouts also creating an ice blockage and eventually into the gutters and cause the same ice dam issues as described above.

Ice dams can form on pitched roof overhangs in cold climates subject to prolonged periods of freezing weather, especially those climates with a daily average January temperature of 30º F (-1º C) or colder. Heat loss through the roof and heat from the sun (even in freezing temperatures) can cause snow on a roof to melt. As water runs down the roof onto the overhang, it freezes and forms an ice dam just above the gutter. The ice dam traps water from melting snow and forces it back under the shingles and into the building’s interior.  Watch the edge of the roof overhang for
evidence of ice dams and look at the eaves and soffit for evidence of deterioration and water damage. If the house has an attic, the underside of the roof deck at exterior walls can be checked for signs of water intrusion.

Safety:  Don’t forget about safety when cleaning your gutters.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that forms from incomplete combustion of fuels, such as natural or liquefied petroleum gas, oil, wood or coal.  Any fuel-burning appliances which are malfunctioning or improperly installed can be a source of CO poisoning.

Facts and Figures:

•    480 U.S. residents died between 2001 and 2003 from non-fire-related carbon-monoxide poisoning.
•    Most CO exposures occur during the winter months, especially in December (including 56 deaths, and 2,157 non-fatal exposures), and in January (including 69 deaths and 2,511 non-fatal exposures). The peak time of day for CO exposure is between 6 and 10 p.m.
•    Many experts believe that CO poisoning statistics understate the problem. Because the symptoms of CO poisoning mimic a range of common health ailments, it is likely that a large number of mild to mid-level exposures are never identified, diagnosed, or accounted for in any way in carbon monoxide statistics.
•    Out of all reported non-fire carbon-monoxide incidents, 89% or almost nine out of 10 of them take place in a home.

 

CO can poison slowly over a period of several hours, even in low concentrations. Sensitive organs, such as the brain, heart and lungs, suffer the most from a lack of oxygen.
High concentrations of carbon monoxide can kill in less than five minutes. At low concentrations, it will require a longer period of time to affect the body. Exceeding the EPA concentration of 9 parts per million (ppm) for more than eight hours may have adverse health affects. The limit of CO exposure for healthy workers, as prescribed by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration, is 50 ppm.

Colorado State Law States:

NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW,  THE SELLER OF EACH EXISTING SINGLE-FAMILY DWELLING OFFERED FOR
SALE OR TRANSFER ON OR AFTER JULY 1, 2009, THAT HAS A FUEL-FIRED HEATER OR APPLIANCE, A FIREPLACE, OR AN
ATTACHED GARAGE SHALL ASSURE THAT AN OPERATIONAL CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM IS INSTALLED WITHIN FIFTEEN FEET OF THE ENTRANCE
TO EACH ROOM LAWFULLY USED FOR SLEEPING PURPOSES OR IN A LOCATION AS SPECIFIED IN ANY BUILDING CODE
ADOPTED BY THE STATE OR ANY LOCAL GOVERNMENT ENTITY.

During my Home Inspections,  testing Carbon Monoxide detectors is very important due to the safety concerns and because of Colorado State Law as noted above.

 

CO Detector Placement

Where not to CO Detectors:
•    directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances, as appliances may emit a small amount of carbon monoxide upon start-up;
•    within 15 feet of heating and cooking appliances, or in or near very humid areas, such as bathrooms;
•    within 5 feet of kitchen stoves and ovens, or near areas locations where household chemicals and bleach are stored (store such chemicals away from bathrooms and kitchens, whenever possible);
•    in garages, kitchens, furnace rooms, or in any extremely dusty, dirty, humid, or greasy areas;
•    in direct sunlight, or in areas subjected to temperature extremes. These include unconditioned crawlspaces, unfinished attics, un-insulated or poorly insulated ceilings, and porches;
•    in turbulent air near ceiling fans, heat vents, air conditioners, fresh-air returns, or open windows. Blowing air may prevent carbon monoxide from reaching the CO sensors.
Where to  place CO detectors:
•    within 15 feet of each bedroom door and near all sleeping areas, where it can wake sleepers. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) recommend that every home have at least one carbon monoxide detector for each floor of the home, and within hearing range of each sleeping area;
•    on every floor of your home, including the basement (source:  International Association of Fire Chiefs/IAFC);
•    near or over any attached garage. Carbon monoxide detectors are affected by excessive humidity and by close proximity to gas stoves (source:  City of New York);
•    near, but not directly above, combustion appliances, such as furnaces, water heaters, and fireplaces, and in the garage (source:  UL); and
•    on the ceiling in the same room as permanently installed fuel-burning appliances, and centrally located on every habitable level, and in every HVAC zone of the building (source:  National Fire Protection Association 720). This rule applies to commercial buildings.
In North America, some national, state and local municipalities require installation of CO detectors in new and existing homes, as well as commercial businesses, among them:  Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont and New York City, and the Canadian province of Ontario. Installers are encouraged to check with their local municipality to determine what specific requirements have been enacted in their jurisdiction.

Central Humidifiers

The winters in Colorado Springs can be very dry and the humidity levels in your home so low that wood floors and wood furniture will shrink or contract.  During My Home Inspections I come across many different types of humidifiers which are attached to the return air duct work at the furnace.  Humidifiers should have a damper which is closed during the summer season and opened during the winter season.

What is humidity?
Humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air. “Relative humidity” signifies the amount of moisture in the air relative to the maximum amount of water the air can contain before it becomes saturated. This maximum moisture count is related to air temperature in that the hotter the air is, the more moisture it can hold. For instance, if indoor air temperature drops, relative humidity will increase.
How do central air humidifiers work?
How do central air humidifiers work?

Central air humidifiers are integrated into the forced-air heating system so that they humidify air while it is being heated.  The water that is used by the device is pumped automatically into the humidifier from household plumbing, unlike portable humidifiers, which require the user to periodically supply water to the device. Humidifiers are available in various designs, each of which turns liquid water into water vapor, which is then vented into the house at an adjustable rate.

Why humidify air?     

Moist air  seems to soothe irritated, inflamed airways. For someone with a cold and thick nasal secretions, a humidifier can help thin out the secretions and make breathing easier.
Indoor air that is too dry can also cause the following problems:
•    damage to musical instruments, such as pianos, guitars and violins;
•    dry skin;
•    peeling wallpaper;
•    static electricity, which can damage sensitive electrical equipment, cause hair to stick up, and can be painful or annoying; and
•    cracks in wood furniture, floors, cabinets and paint.

Central Humidifier Dangers

Humidifiers can cause various diseases. The young, elderly and infirm may be particularly at risk to contamination from airborne pollutants such as bacteria and fungi. These can grow in humidifiers and get into the air by way of the vapor where it can be breathed in. Some of the more common diseases and pathogens transmitted by humidifiers are:
•    Legionnaires’ Disease. Health problems caused by this disease range from flu-like symptoms to serious infections. This problem is generally more prevalent with portable humidifiers because they draw standing water from a tank in which bacteria and fungi can grow;
•    thermophilic actinomycetes. These bacteria thrive at temperatures of 113° to 140° F and can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which is an inflammation of the lungs; and
•    “humidifier fever,” which is a mysterious and short-lived, flu-like illness marked by fever, headache, chills and malaise, but without prominent pulmonary symptoms. It normally subsides within 24 hours without residual effects.
Other problems associated with humidifiers include:
•    accumulation of white dust from minerals in the water. These minerals may be released in the mist from the humidifier and settle as fine white dust that may be small enough to enter the lungs. The health effects of this dust depend on the types and amounts of dissolved minerals. It is unclear whether these minerals cause any serious health problems;
•    moisture damage due to condensation. Condensed water from over-humidified air will appear on the interior surfaces of windows and other relatively cool surfaces. Excessive moisture on windows can damage windowpanes and walls, but a more serious issue is caused when moisture collects on the inner surfaces of exterior walls. Moisture there can ruin insulation and rot the wall, and cause peeling, cracking or blistering of the paint; and
•    accumulation of mold. This organic substance grows readily in moist environments, such as a home moistened by an over-worked humidifier. Mold can be hazardous to people with compromised immune systems.


Designs and Maintenance

drum-type humidifier:  has a rotating spongy surface that absorbs water from a tray. Air from the central heating system blows through the sponge, vaporizing the absorbed water. The drum type requires care and maintenance because mold and impurities can collect in the water tray. According to some manufacturers’ instructions, this tray should be rinsed annually, although it usually helps to clean it several times per heating season.
•    flow-through or “trickle” humidifier:  a higher quality though more expensive unit than the drum-type, which allows fresh water to trickle into an aluminum panel. Air blows through the panel and forces the water to evaporate into the air stream. Excess water exits the panel into a drain tube. This design requires little maintenance because the draining water has a “self-cleaning” effect and, unlike the drum-type humidifier, there is no stagnant water.


Garage Door Safety

Garage doors are one of the heaviest moving objects associated with your home.  They are supported and operated by large springs and  openers which control the opening and closing of garage doors, either through a wall-mounted switch or a radio transmitter. Due to the strain that garage door components and openers regularly endure, they may become defective over time and need to be fixed or replaced. Defective components may create safety hazards as well as functional deficiencies to the garage door assembly.

The majority of the injuries caused by garage doors are the result of pinched fingers, although
severe injuries and deaths due to entrapment occur as well. Sixty children have been killed since
1982 as a result of garage doors that did not automatically reverse upon contact.

The safety components of  the garage door system which should be inspected are:

  1.  Manual emergency release handle
  2.  photoelectric sensors or photo eyes
  3.  Auto reverse system
  4. Rollers, guides and hinges

Manual Emergency Release Handle:
All garage doors should be equipped with a manual emergency release handle, which will detach the door from the door opener when activated. It is vital during emergency situations, such as when a person becomes trapped beneath the door or when a power outage cuts electricity to the door opener. Activate the handle to make sure that it works, although you will have to reset the handle if it does not reset automatically. In order for the handle to be accessible and obvious, the handle should be red in color and hang no higher than 6’ above the garage floor.

Photoelectric Sensor:
Photoelectric sensors or Photoelectric eyes are located at the base of each side of the garage door and emit
and detect beams of light. If this beam is broken, it will cause the door to immediately reverse direction and
open. For safety reasons, photo sensors must be installed a maximum of 6 inches above the floor surface and
should be tested periodically.

Automatic Reverse System:
This safety feature can be tested by grasping the base of the garage door as it closes and applying upward
resistance. Use caution while performing this test because you may accidentally damage its components if
the door does not reverse course.

Rollers, Guides and Hinges:
Door parts should be checked for loose door guides,rollers & hinges, because of extreme pressures on these
parts the guides and hinges can become loose or the rollers worn. Make these inspections a part of your
annual maintenance inspections or have a Certified Home Inspector conduct a Annual Home Inspection.

 

Asbestos Cement Siding

Asbestos cement is a composite material consisting of Portland cement reinforced with asbestos fibers.  Asbestos cement first came into use as an exterior cladding after 1907. By the 1920s, the National Board of Fire Underwriters recommended that asbestos cement replace wood as siding and roofing material because of its superior fire-resistant properties.  By the 1940s, hundreds of thousands of homes in the U.S. had been constructed using asbestos cement siding.

During the late 1960s and early ‘70s, however, the news media began to report on the health hazards associated with asbestos.  As reports increased, concern grew, so the federal government took action.  The EPA banned the use of asbestos in the manufacture of building products in 1973.

In the course of my Home Inspections In the Colorado Springs area I inspect many older homes that have Asbestos Cement siding.  I always inform the buyers of the advantages and disadvantages of this product, but as it was intended it provides a good fire barrier.

When trying to determine if you have Asbestos Cement siding, beware that other wood siding can look like Asbestos Cement siding, a simple pick test will let you know.  Use a sharp tool to test your siding, if you have wood siding you can gouge a small portion off, but if you have Asbestos Cement siding it will be similar to gouging your cement sidewalk.
Health Risks

Asbestos fibers are a proven health hazard if inhaled.  Asbestos dust is a known cause of a type of lung cancer called asbestosis.  Mesothelioma, another deadly form of cancer that attacks internal organs, can also be caused by exposure to asbestos.  However, asbestos cement siding that has been properly installed and is not in a state of decay presents no health risks as long as it remains undisturbed.  This is because the cement binds the asbestos fibers and prevents their release into the air, under normal use and maintenance.

The EPA deems asbestos to be hazardous when it is in a friable state, meaning that it can be crumbled, crushed or pulverized by hand pressure.  Crushed asbestos in a powdery form can allow its particles to become airborne and inhaled, causing potential health problems.  Asbestos cement products that are not in a friable state are not considered hazardous.  The only potential danger is when the cement is disturbed in a way that causes the asbestos fibers to become airborne.

If mechanical activities performed on the siding, such as chipping, sawing, grinding or sanding, allow particles to become airborne, then the cement is considered in a friable state and, consequently, hazardous.  Deterioration can also lead to particles becoming airborne and potentially dangerous.

Advantages

•    Asbestos cement siding is highly fire-resistant and will not burn or melt the way vinyl and wood siding will.
•    It resists termite damage.
•    It resists rotting.
•    It has been manufactured with textures intended to simulate the look of other cladding materials, such as wood grain.
•    It is fairly easy to clean and maintain.
•    Unlike more porous siding materials, such as wood clapboard, asbestos cement siding will not quickly soak up paint, which allows it to be painted more easily.

Disadvantages
•    Asbestos cement siding is very brittle and can be easily chipped, cracked or broken.
•    The use of a pressure washer for maintenance can crack the siding and lead to moisture intrusion, if the pressure setting is high enough.
•    Asbestos cement can be dangerous if pulverized by sawing, sanding, breaking, etc.
•    This product cannot be refurbished, however replacement siding is available.

Maintenance
Damage and deterioration can lead to structural and health issues, so proper maintenance of asbestos cement building materials is a primary concern.  Keeping the siding clean and performing minor repairs as soon as they become necessary are very important.  Asbestos cement siding is fairly brittle and has little resistance to cracking, chipping and damage from impact, which can cause asbestos particles to become airborne.  Damage to the siding can also lead to other damage related to moisture intrusion which can then lead to Mold growth.  Damaged areas that cannot be fixed but can be replaced with non-asbestos fiber cement by a professional.  Specific fiber cement materials have been manufactured for repairs that are intended to mimic the look of asbestos cement siding.

Pre-Listing Inspection

Pre-Listing Inspection or some times called a Seller Inspection or Move-in-Certified Inspection has many advantages for ;

1. Seller

2.  Buyer

3.  Realtor

Check out this link which provides a lot of information on this type of Inspection in the Colorado Springs area, Also visit my website http://www.tomcampinspectionservices.com for other services I provide

Sump Pump Maintenance

What is a Sump Pump?
Sump pumps are self-activating electrical pumps that protect homes from moisture intrusion. They are usually installed in a corner of the  basement or in a crawlspace.  They are designed to  to remove rising groundwater and surface runoff before it has a chance to seep into the home. Water can cause interior damage and encourage the Mold growth.  Sump Pumps should be maintained and equipped with all necessary components in order to ensure their reliability and be tested to ensure proper operation. Sump Pumps are one component I check during my Home Inspection.

Types of Sump Pumps

  • Submersible sump pumps are designed for  underwater use and sit at the bottom of the sump pit, and are much quieter than pedestal pumps. Their oil-cooled motors and tight seals protect against water and dust and afford them a long lifespan.   Sump Pumps can be purchassubersable pumped from your local home improvement stores from about $150.00 to $400.00 which is a small price to pay considering  the possibility of moisture in your basement or crawl space leading to Mold Growth.

 

  • Pedestal sump pumps sit above the water line beside the sump trench and are not designed to get wet. Since they are not contained within the sump pit, they can be accessed easily but are also very noisy.


Maintenance of Sump Pumps

  • Sump pumps must be kept clean and free of debris. The inlet screen prevents the passage of dirt and other solid material from entering the pump.   Cleaning the screen should be a part of regular maintenance.

 

  • You should make sure that the float is not tangled or jammed in one position.  The float should be free to move up and down.  Raise the float and the pump motor should start, lower float and it should stop.  A sump pump with a jammed float is useless because it will not sense when it should turn on and shut off.

 

  • The pump can be tested by pouring water into the pit to make sure it becomes activated and expels the water.  Depending on the size and design of the pit and how fast the water peculates into the ground this procedure can take quite a few gallons of water.


Components of a sump pump

  • For most homes, the sump pit should not be less than 24 inches deep and 18 inches wide.  The sump pit must be large enough to allow thesump pit pump room to work properly.  The sump pit does not need to be constructed from any particular material, as long as it is solid and provides permanent support for the pump. It must, however,. Some homeowners use a 5-gallon bucket as a sump pit, but this is insufficient.

 

  • The check valve must be the same diameter as the discharge pipe into which it fits and is usually a different color. A check valve should be installed in order to check valveprevent pumped water in the discharge line from re-entering the sump pit when the device is turned off. Without this valve, the pump will have to work twice as hard to remove the same column of water, which causes unnecessary strain to the pump components. A check valve can also prevent the rare yet disturbing possibility that a discharge line connected to a stream or pond will back-siphon into the sump pit.  These Items will be checked by a Certified Home Inspector if you are purchasing a home with a sump pump installed.

 

  • An alarm can be installed because sump pumps can burn out, lose power, become clogged or misaligned, or malfunction in a variety of other ways. It is valuable to have a warning device installed that will signal water build-up. These alarms can alert homeowners or neighbors of flooding so that it can be resolved before water damage occurs. Alarms are especially important in residences that are not occupied for long periods of time.

 

  • Backup Power sources can be installed to maintain operation during power outages which are most likely to happen during heavy rains and floods, which are situations when the sump pump is most needed. For this reason, sump pumps should have a backup power source to rely on. A pump powered by a battery or the home’s water pressure can also be installed as a backup.

 

  • A GFCI receptacle can be used but may trip during safe conditions and deactivate the sump pump when it is needed. A sump pump is among the most critical of all household appliances, and its deactivation, especially if the tenants are not home, could allow catastrophic building damage. Codes recommend that appliances in basements and crawlspaces be connected to GFCIs to reduce the chance of electrical shock, but this advice is often ignored due to these concerns over nuisance tripping.


Sump Pump Discharge

  • Point of discharge should be 20 feet from your foundation and should have positive drainage from your wall or foundation line.
  • Water should not drain onto your neighbors property and in most areas is not permitted to drain into the sewer system or septic system.

Inspections Done Right

Lead Safety

 

If you own a home or are planning to buy a home built before 1978, here are some facts you should know about lead.
 
FACT: Lead exposure can harm young children and babies even before they are born.
FACT: Even children who seem healthy can have high levels of lead in their bodies.
FACT: You can get lead in your body by breathing or swallowing lead dust, or by eating soil or paint chips containing lead.
FACT: You have many options for reducing lead hazards. In most cases, lead-based paint that is in good condition is not a hazard.
FACT: Removing lead-based paint improperly can increase the danger to your family.
If you think your home might have lead hazards, consider having your home tested for lead paint to protect your family.
Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978. Some states stopped its use even earlier. Lead can be found in the following:
   in homes in the city, country and suburbs
   on apartments, single-family homes, and both private and public housing complexes;
   on the interior and exterior of the house;
   in the soil around a home.  Soil can pick up lead from exterior paint and other sources, such as past use of leaded gas in cars;
   in household dust. Dust can pick up lead from deteriorating lead-based paint and from soil tracked into a home;
   in drinking water. Your home might have plumbing that uses lead pipes or lead solder. Call your local health department or water supplier to find out about testing your water. You cannot see, smell or taste lead, and boiling your water will not get rid of lead.
If you think your plumbing might have lead in it:
   Use only cold water for drinking and cooking
   Run water for 15 to 30 seconds before drinking it, especially if you have not used your water for a few hours.
   on the job. If you work with lead, you could bring it home on your hands or clothes. Shower and change clothes before coming home. Launder your work clothes separately from the rest of your family's clothes;
   in old (vintage or antique) painted toys and furniture;
   in food and liquids stored in lead crystal, lead-glazed pottery and porcelain;
   from lead smelters and other industries that release lead into the air;
   with hobbies that use lead, such as making pottery or stained glass, or refinishing furniture.
   Bullet re-loading using lead.
   in folk remedies that contain lead, such as "greta" and "azarcon" used to treat an upset stomach.
If you suspect that your house has lead hazards, you can take some immediate steps to reduce your family's risk:
   If you rent, notify your landlord of peeling or chipping paint.
   Clean up paint chips immediately.
   Clean floors, window frames, window sills, and other surfaces weekly. Use a mop, sponge or paper towel with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner, or a cleaner made specifically for lead.
REMEMBER: NEVER MIX AMMONIA AND BLEACH PRODUCTS TOGETHER, SINCE THEY CAN FORM A DANGEROUS GAS.
   Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty and dusty areas.
   Wash children's hands often, especially before they eat, and before nap time and bed time.
   Keep play areas clean. Wash bottles, pacifiers, toys and stuffed animals regularly.
   Keep children from chewing window sills and other painted surfaces.
   Clean or remove shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in lead from soil.
   Make sure children eat nutritious, low-fat meals high in iron and calcium, such as spinach and dairy products. Children with good diets absorb less lead.
In addition to day-to-day cleaning and good nutrition, you can temporarily reduce lead hazards by taking actions such as repairing damaged amid painted surfaces, and by planting grass to cover soil with high lead levels. These actions, called "interim controls," are not permanent solutions and will need ongoing attention. To permanently remove lead hazards, you must hire a certified lead-abatement contractor. Abatement (or permanent hazard elimination) methods include removing, sealing or enclosing lead-based paint with special materials. Just painting over the hazard with regular paint is not enough. Always hire a person with special training for correcting lead problems — someone who knows how to do this work safely and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly. Certified contractors will employ qualified workers and follow strict safety rules set by their state or the federal government. To be safe, hire an InterNACHI inspector for your next inspection.
 

 

 

Inspections Done Right

Annual Home Maintenance

I wrote this article because during my Home Inspections in the Colorado Springs and Denver areas, I get  many questions about maintaining the different parts or aspects of a home.  Your Home is such a large investment  so to protect your investment I have assembled a list of items which should be maintained or checked annually.
Preventive maintenance is cheaper than replacement of major items such as flooring, walls or Mold Mitigation.  This is not a complete list as many homes have unique features which may also require maintenance, use this list to build your own list.  Or have me Inspect your home on an annual basis.  During my Home Inspections I check about 500 items in and around the home.

EXTERIOR

  • Plants and shrubs touching your house should be trimmed and tree branches touching your roof line should be trimmed as well.  Plants and shrubbery  in contact with your house will allow moisture to decay exterior finishes and allow Wood Destroying Insects a habitat.
  • Check for wide gaps in your concrete slabs (walks & drive), especially at your foundation line, caulk as necessary.  Wide gaps will allow moisture under your slabs and cause movement which can lead to an expensive concrete replacement. 
  • Test your frost proof hose bibs, to do so turn your hose bib on (with out a hose attached) then turn off, a small amount of water should drain from the hose bib which would mean the valve is working correctly.  Malfunctioning hose bibs can be expensive when they freeze and rupture.
  • Test exterior GFCI outlets, this is a safety item which should not be ignored, it is a matter of your safety.  If GFCI does not trip, have it replaced by a competent Electrician.
  • Check all horizontal house trim especially above doors and windows for deteriorated or cracked caulking, replace as necessary.  When caulking is no longer effective, moisture may get inside your walls and cause mold growth or deteriorate your wall finishes.  Check for loose soffit material or loose siding which can allow insects inside your walls of attic.
  • Check rain gutters and down spouts, clean as necessary.  Down spouts should drain 3' to 5' away from wall lines.
  • Clean window wells as necessary, window wells clogged with leaves and debris can prevent proper drainage. The result can lead to water inside your basement or crawl space.
  • Check decks and railings for loose planks or railings, re-secure as necessary.  If surface coating is worn re-coat with a UV protectant which can extend the life of your wood.
  • Check fences and gates for loose screws, hinges & slats, correct as necessary.
  • Check irrigation valves for leaks and drips, repair as necessary.  Irrigation valves are normally located next to foundation walls and if they continue to leak the moisture could get into basement or crawl space or the wet soil at footing area could cause settlement and wall cracking.

GARAGE

  • Check garage door parts and hinges for loose bolts and screws, re-tighten as necessary.  Check auto reverse and photoelectric eyes and manual disconnect  for proper function. Defective components may create a safety hazard.  To test auto reverse function while door is in the closing position grasp bottom door edge with both hands, if you cannot reverse the doors operation with mild hand resistance the sensitivity should be adjusted.
  • Door from garage to house should have self closing hinges or closure  to prevent the spread of fire or fumes into living quarters.
  • Check in corners of garage for mouse droppings, exterminate as necessary.

BASEMENT / CRAWL SPACE

  • Check around windows and perimeter walls for signs of moisture.  If moisture does exist a specialist may be needed to determine cause. Moisture in basements and crawl spaces can lead to mold growth.
  • Clean window tracks for easy operation, you may need these windows as means of egress.
  • Check operation of sump pump, most pumps have an external float which can be moved in an upward motion to activate pump.
  • If furnace is located in basement check filter.  Filters should be changed every couple of months through the winter season.
  • At top of Gas Water Heater check around vent cap for dark residue, this is usually caused from back drafting, consult a licensed plumber for repairs.

KITCHEN

  • Test GFCI outlets, a defective GFCI can lead to electrical shock.  All outlets within six feet of wet areas should be GFCI protected. If outlet fails have a qualified Electrician replace.
  • Check for leaks under sinks, some leaks go un-noticed and can lead to expensive floor and cabinet repairs.
  • Clean under Refrigerator and if coil is accessible clean it also.  Keeping these clean can prolong the life of the Refrigerator and improve healthy air quality.
  • Check for loose caulking around sinks and counter tops, replace as necessary.  Loose caulking can allow moisture to come in contact with particle board which is under the formica surfaces and swells easily.
  • Clean aerator on faucet, small particles in water accumulate on screens and restrict water flow.
  • Check for anti-tip bracket on range/oven, install if missing.  This bracket prevents unit from tipping if child climbs on oven door.

BATHROOMS

  • Check GFCI's for proper operation, have replaced if defective. GFCI outlets are required for areas within 6' of wet areas.
  • Check for leaks under sinks, some leaks go un-noticed and can lead to expensive floor and cabinet repairs.
  • Check for loose caulking around sinks, tubs and counter tops, replace as necessary.
  • Clean aerator on faucet, small particles in water accumulate on screens and restrict water flow.
  • Check for loose water closet (toilet) or signs of moisture around bottom of toilet.  Toilets can become loose over time, re-tighten or replace wax ring as necessary.

INTERIOR AREAS

  • Have carpets professionally cleaned on an annual basis, this can extend the life of your carpets and promotes air quality.
  • Use hose type vacuum cleaner to clean floor ducts, floor vents usually lift out without the need of tools, it is amazing how much lint and debri can collect in floor vents and go un-noticed, this will also promote healthy air quality.
  • Test Smoke Detectors/Alarms and replace batteries on an annual basis.  Replace defective detectors.  Smoke alarms should be tested once a month and Experts agree Smoke Alarms and Detectors should be replaced after ten years.
  • Test CO Detectors and replace batteries. CO Detectors should be tested once a month and Experts agree CO Detectors should be replaced after ten years.  Colorado State Law requires sellers of homes to provide a CO Detector within 10' to the entrance of sleeping quarters.
  • Test AFCI (arc fault current interrupters) breakers in electrical panel if equipped.
  • Check Fire Extinguishers, most have a gauge close to the handle, the dial should indicate charged or in the green zone, if not replace or have recharged.
  • Having your home tested for Radon on an annual basis is recommended.  Radon levels can change with seasons and from year to year.  EPA declares Radon is the second leading cause of Lung Cancer, Radon Gases can be prevented by installing a Mitigation System.

  Inspections Done Right

Should I Worry About Radon?

It seems more people are becoming concerned with Radon gas in their homes or the homes they plan to buy. The EPA is largely responsible for this concern due to their efforts to keep the public informed about air quality in and around the home.(Much of the information from this article is from the EPA’s website.) So It is not uncommon to schedule a Radon Test with a Real Estate Home Inspection.

What is Radon?
Radon is a colorless and odorless radioactive gas that is produced by the radioactive decay of radium. Radium is a product of a decay chain beginning with uranium, a naturally occurring radioactive element. Radium is found in trace amounts in nearly all rocks,soils,and groundwater as well as building materials, plants,animals,and the human body.

Where is Radon Found?
Radon is a natural component of the air we breathe. Radon gas decays to solid particles called radon decay products. Inhaled radon decay products account for more than two thirds of the natural background radiation dose to members of the public. Scientists have long known about the radiation dose from radon, particularly to miners; however, the general public in the United States became aware of the potential risk of radon in homes in the 1980s.

The map below shows the concentration of mapped Radon zones, notice we in Colorado are in the Highest  Zone 1.
.

Is Radon Harmful to Your Health?
Radon is the second most important cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. Radon exposure is also considered the  primary cause of lung cancer in individuals who have never smoked. The majority of radon related lung cancers are attributable  to long term exposures at low or moderate concentrations since most of the exposures occur at these lower concentrations. Adverse health effects, other than lung cancer, have not been consistently demonstrated in epidemiological studies. 

How is Radon Measured?
Radon concentration is a measurable quantity that is related to the amount of radiation that would be emitted by radon and its decay  products in a liter of air.  Radon concentration in air is expressed in units of picocuries per liter (pCi/L).Higher radon concentrations and smoking habits are related to a higher potential for adverse human health effects. The concentration to which an individual is exposed can be influenced by that persons lifestyle,such as time spent indoors, building construction,local geology, and other environmental factors

What Level of Radon is Acceptable?
The U.S. EPA has established guidelines for exposure to radon in homes. At levels of 4pCi/L or more, the U.S. EPA encourages members of the public to take steps to reduce the radon concentrations and to consider action at levels above 2pCi/L. The Health Physics Society concurs with the U.S. EPA guideline of 4pCi/L. However, because 4pCi/L is not a definite line between safe and unsafe, the HPS also agrees with the EPA s recommendation to consider action at levels below 4pCiL. Recent residential epidemiological studies have demonstrated that there is a statistically significant increased risk of lung cancer at concentrations below the U.S. EPA s action level of 4pCi/L.

How do I know if My Radon Levels are High?
You should have your home or building tested by a Certified Radon Measurement Professional.   Closed house conditions are required 12 hours prior to deployment of the tests and for the 48 hours during the test.  Closed-house conditions means keeping all windows closed, keeping doors closed except for normal entry and exit, and not operating fans or other machines which bring in air from outside.  Fans that are part of a radon-reduction system or small exhaust fans operating for only short periods of time may run during the test.

How Long does a Radon Test Take?
Many different types of Radon Measurement Devices are available.  Short term tests require a minimum deployment tome of 48 hours to 7 days.  For the Radon tests I conduct I use either a Charcoal Liquid Scintillation which is two small vials of activated charcoal  or Activated Charcoal Adsorption container filled with activated charcoal and covered with a screen and filter.   Both of these types are deployed for 48 hours.  Long  term can be a Continuous Monitoring which could be in place for a year.

What can be done if my Levels are High?
For existing homes with radon concentrations at or above 4pCi/L, proper radon mitigation can almost always reduce levels to below 2pCi/L. Homeowners, or others responsible for a particular building, should contact a qualified radon mitigation specialist to determine the appropriate actions to be taken to reduce indoor radon concentrations. Confirmation tests should be made after mitigation to ensure that the system is working properly.

What if I Plan to Build a New Home?

For new construction, particularly in areas designated by the U.S. EPA or state radon programs as  having the potential for indoor radon  concentrations exceeding 4 pCi/L, radon‐reducing features or a full mitigation system should be installed at the time of construction. Nationwide, the average cost of installing radon resistant systems in new construction is in the range of several hundred dollars,  while the cost of mitigating an existing home often exceeds $1,000. 

RADON AND HOME SALES?
More and more, home buyers and renters are asking about radon levels before they buy or rent a home. Because real estate sales happen quickly, there is often little time to deal with radon and other issues. The best thing to do is to test for radon NOW and save the results in case the buyer is interested in them. Fix a problem if it exists so it won't complicate your home sale. You can also use the results of two short-term tests done side-by-side (four inches apart) to decide whether to fix your home.

 

Inspections Done Right

Home Safety

From the perspective of 28 years in construction management (superintendent),  job site safety  was always foremost on my mind.  When an accident occurs on a job site it can be very costly in many ways.  First to the injured party who must suffer through the healing process, it also cost the project time due to possible re-staffing, time taken in investigating the accident and the insurance rates sometimes will go up.  In my Home Inspections I am not looking for things like household chemicals or plants, I concentrate on electrical issues or fall type hazards.  Just as a project superintendent would have a safety plan, so home owners should also have a plan in case of accidents of any kind.  Remember the faster you can respond to an accident the better for the victim (your loved one).

Buying a home is the first step, you have most likely had it inspected for structural and electrical problems hopefully by a Certified Inspector.  Don’t stop there, as you move into your new home keep in mind the safety of your family.  If you have small children consider cabinet latches and keep the poisonous plants out of reach. 

As I was considering  my own home safety, I was astonished at the number household items considered to be poisonous either by ingestion or inhalation.  Items we use sometimes daily but don’t stop to read the labels.  Safety does not stop with household chemicals, it also includes electrical, trip hazards and even house plants.  To my surprise I found the following list of indoor plants to be poisonous.

***English Ivy, Aloe Vera, (Burn plant), Poinsettia, Hydrangea, Jerusalem Cherry,
 Amaryllis, Azalea, Flamingo lily, Angels' wings, Chrysanthemums, Mums,
Kaffir Lily, Croton, Cyclamen, Angel's Trumpet, Dumb cane, Crown-of-thorns, 
Devil's Backbone,Ceriman, Swiss-cheese plant, Heart leaf philodendron, Philodendron***    The following link has more information on the individual plants and what parts are poisonous.     http://www.blankees.com/house/plants/poisonous.htm

Mums

Items in the kitchen considered poisonous: glass cleaner, antibacterial cleaner, dishwashing detergent, all-purpose cleaner, insect sprays, oven cleaner, and ant or roach baits.

Items in the bathroom considered poisonous: medicines, toilet cleaners, antibacterial cleaners, air fresheners, drain cleaners, mold and mildew remover.

Items in the garage considered poisonous: motor oil, windshield washer fluid, gasoline, paints, auto batteries, antifreeze, pesticides.

For a poison emergency in the U.S. call 1-800-222-1222
To Learn More About Chemicals Around Your House:
http://www.epa.gov/kidshometour/kitchen.htm#view
 

Tips on Poisoning
Don’t force to vomit immediately. Call poison control. Tell them what substance and how much was swallowed.
Take the bottle or package to the phone when you call. Directions on the container may not be up to date. Always follow the instructions given by the poison control center. Do not give the patient fluids or cause to vomit if unconscious or in convulsions. Call for emergency help.

Tips for MINOR BURNS
 Immediately cool the burn area by putting it under cool running water or in a sink filled with cool water for at least five minutes or until the pain subsides. Never apply butter, grease or ointment. Don’t open blisters or remove dead skin. Cover with gauze. If blisters break, apply a clean dressing. If the burn is on the face, covers an area bigger than your hand or if it blisters, call the doctor or emergency number.

Tips for Cuts
MINOR – Wash wound area with soap and water, not alcohol; cover with a sterile gauze bandage.
MAJOR – If blood appears to be gushing or spurting, follow these instructions and call for help. Take a clean
cloth or towel and press hard on the cut for 10 minutes. Do not remove pressure to see if it’s working. If possible, raise the cut above the level of the chest. After 10 minutes, if the bleeding has stopped, cover the cut with a bandage. If the bleeding hasn’t stopped, try pressing harder for five more minutes and seek medical help.

 

Make sure you have the following posted near your phone in case of an emergency.

 

 

    Inspections Done Right
 

Do I have Polybutylene Plumbing in My Home?

Polybutylene piping was a low-cost piping formed of plastic resin. It is commonly gray, white, blue, black and ivory  in color and is flexible as the photos show. Poly piping was used as a substitute for copper piping in both underground water mains and interior plumbing.  One of the easiest ways to identify this pipe is to locate the “PB” lettering on the printed label.  Because of the ease of installing poly piping, it was used in the construction of millions of homes throughout the U.S. between 1978 and 1995.  Not all polybutylene piping systems use polybutylene fittings; some use copper. Therefore, if you see copper fittings on a pipe, it does not mean that you do not have poly piping.  The following photos have been taken in my Home Inspections and are of Polybutylene piping.

polybutylene1polybutylene2

polybutylene3polybutylene4polybutylene-piping

It was discovered that as poly pipe ages and reacts with the oxidants in normal tapwater, it becomes brittle, sometimes scaling or flaking. This results in a fracturing of the interior surface of the pipe, which allows for more deterioration. Eventually the pipe will begin to leak, causing damage throughout a home. Poly pipe with plastic fittings or with metal fittings will eventually incur damage; poly piping is not a reliable piping under any circumstances. If a pipe has been leaking for some time without the knowledge of a homeowner, severe structural damage or Mold growth can result, making repairs extremely difficult.

Polybutylene piping was the subject of much attention because of the settlement of a multi-million dollar lawsuit.  Manufacturers of PB pipe have never admitted that it’s defective, but they have agreed to fund the class-action settlement.  Polybutylene pipe is no longer be manufactured and is no longer be available .   For more information visit The Polybutylene Pipe Settlement Fund     http://www.pbpipe.com/.      The Cox v. Shell settlement was one of the largest consumer settlements in United States history.

The only way to eliminate the possibility of problems that can come from deteriorating polybutylene piping is to replace the pipe itself.  Fortunately, this procedure is relatively inexpensive and can usually be performed by a certified plumber or  re-pipe specialist.
 

A reputable plumbing company can install water supply piping professionally, but can they do the whole job for a fair price and at the least inconvenience to me?   A few general plumbing companies will do the whole job by subcontracting the drywall and paint, but a re-pipe specialist is your best. They have the personnel to give you a quality job, and they will do it more efficiently, with less damage and inconvenience, and most importantly, for less cost.
 

In general, real estate agents tell us that homes with polybutylene piping sell for less and take longer to sell. Generally, a home inspector flags the problem, and the pipes are replaced before closing.  But we do not know how many prospective buyers simply ignore homes with poly because they recognize it as a potential problem from the start.
 

So if you discover your home has Polybutylene piping have it replaced, the possibility of a leak or rupture occurring will only increase with time.

      Inspections Done Right

There’s Never a Good Reason to Avoid Paying for a Home Inspection

 I just read an article from, David Myers of the Chicago Daily Herald entitled, "There's Never a Good Reason to Avoid Paying for a Home Inspection."  Mr. Myers debates with a reader about  whether a home inspection is worth the money or not.  The reader writes that a home inspection is really not necessary since the seller is legally obligated to disclose defects.
  Mr. Myers corrects the reader stating that the seller only has to disclose 'KNOWN" defects and that a professional home inspector knows how to FIND these defects (my emphasis) – well worth a few hundred dollars since a professional home inspection is "Cheap Insurance."  A home inspection (or commercial property inspection) is both cheap insurance and a powerful price negotiation tool for both the buyer and seller of a home worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. It can keep you out of court where your you may or may not collect damages for property defects.
  He provides a good example:
"For example, say you purchased a house without ordering an inspection, and it slid off the foundation when the first rainstorm arrived. The only way you could collect damages from the seller would be to prove that he knew about the problem – or at least should have known – and failed to disclose it to you. At best, you would have to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees and countless hours in court pursuing a claim with an uncertain outcome.
Had you instead hired a professional inspector, it's likely that the inspector would have noticed telltale signs, such as fissures or buckling in the cement, that the foundation was giving way. You then could have negotiated with the seller to have the necessary repairs made, or simply use the contract's inspection contingency to cancel the sale and get your deposit back."
Like he said, "cheap insurance."  It certainly makes me feel pretty good about my career choice and the value that I can provide my clients with my years of construction and inspection experience. I know that I have helped people avoid some major problems in buying or selling a home and I am proud to be a NACHI Certified Home Inspector. Remember all "Home Inspectors" are not created equal, find a Certified NACHI Inspector to get the best value for your money.
Here is a link to the article: http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=337777&src=118.  I also saved a PDF copy of this article which you can find here – Daily Herald | There's never a good reason to avoid paying for a home inspection

 

Inspections Done Right     Inspections Done Right

Carpeted Bathrooms is it a Good Idea?

Probably 30% of the homes I inspect have at least one bathroom that has carpet. 

Some of the advantages of a Carpeted bathroom are as follows.

  • Carpet provides a non slip surface when exiting the shower or tub
  • Carpet is warmer to your feet  in the winter
  • Carpet is less expensive and quicker to install than Ceramic Tile
  • Carpet has a warmer look to the bathroom.

 

Some of the disadvantages of Carpet in bathrooms

  • Carpet and padding can act as a sponge and hold water
  • Carpet can be more difficult to clean when soiled
  • Carpet can hold urine and be undetected
  • carpet can hold moisture from exiting the shower or tub
  • Wet carpet can be a hiding place for mold

When left to grow mold can create structural damage, because mold can deteriorate a wood sub-floor or drywall and cause structural damage which can lead to costly repairs.  Carpet has a tendency to hold or foster bacteria which is one reason it is against code to carpet a commercial bathroom.

Precautions you should take if you have carpet in your bathrooms 

moldy subfloor

  • Check often for moisture
  • Make sure you have proper ventilation
  • Make sure toilet is not leaking
  • Carpet in bathrooms should be cleaned on a regular basis

The photo  is of a bathroom that was tiled but moisture  invaded the ceramic tile and went unchecked mold growth occurred and lead to costly repairs.

 

 

Inspections Done Right    Inspections Done Right


   www.www.tomcampinspectionservices.com

Instructions for Home Occupants Prior to Radon Test

Radon Testing Checklist

For reliable test results, follow this Radon Testing Checklist carefully.  Testing for radon is not complicated.  Improper testing may yield inaccurate results and require another test.  Disturbing or interfering with the test device, or with closed-house conditions, may invalidate the test results and is illegal in some states.  If the seller or qualified tester cannot confirm that all items have been completed, take another test.


                                                 Before Conducting a Radon Test:

    •    Notify the occupants of the importance of proper testing conditions. Give the occupants written instructions or a copy of this Guide and explain    the directions carefully.

    •    Conduct the radon test for a minimum of 48 hours; some test devices have a minimum exposure time greater than 48 hours.

    •    When doing a short-term test ranging from 2-4 days, it is important to maintain closed-house conditions for at least 12 hours before the beginning of the test and during the entire test period.

    •    When doing a short-term test ranging from 4-7 days, EPA recommends that closed-house conditions be maintained

    •    If you conduct the test yourself, use a qualified radon measurement device and follow the laboratory's instructions.  Your state may be able to    provide you with a list of do-it-yourself test devices available from qualified laboratories

    •    If you hire someone to do the test, hire only a qualified individual.  Some states issue photo identification (ID) cards; ask to see it.  The tester's ID number, if available, should be included or noted in the test

    •    The test should include method(s) to prevent or detect interference with testing conditions or with the testing device itself.

    •    If the house has an active radon-reduction system, make sure the vent fan is operating properly.  If the fan is not operating properly, have it (or ask to have it) repaired and then test.

During a Radon Test:

Closed-house conditions means keeping all windows closed, keeping doors closed except for normal entry and exit, and not operating fans or other machines which bring in air from outside.  Fans that are part of a radon-reduction system or small exhaust fans operating for only short periods of time may run during the test.

    •    Maintain closed-house conditions during he entire time of a short term test, especially for tests shorter than one week in length.

    •    Operate the home's heating and cooling systems normally during the test. For tests lasting less than one week, operate only air-conditioning units which recirculate interior air.

    •    Do not disturb the test device at any time during the test.

    •    If a radon-reduction system is in place, make sure the system is working properly and will be in operation during the entire radon test.

                                                                                      After a Radon Test:

   •    If an elevated level is found, fix the home. Contact a qualified radon-reduction contractor about lowering the radon level.  EPA recommends that you mitigate the home when the radon level is 4 pCi/L or more.

    •    Be sure that you or the radon tester can demonstrate or provide information to ensure that the testing conditions were not violated during the testing period.

 

Leo     Inspections Done Right