Brominated Fire Retardants
Brominated Fire Retardants are an additive put into many products – such as couches, carpets, even tv’s. It is obviously a fire retardant, but it has also been linked to breast cancer.
Today, BFRs can be found nearly everywhere whether it is sediments in the river or dust within the home. As a result, it has been found in many animals including eagles, polar bears, and, perhaps most surprising of all, in sperm whales deep in the Atlantic Ocean waters. As well as in the atmosphere, the chemicals can be found near urban areas in rivers.
Despite all of this, the most concerning find so far has been within the blood of office workers in addition to breast milk. Considering this transfers directly from mother to child, this is worrying news.
How Old? Look At The Nails
Many times, trying to figure out the age of a building can be challenging. But a neat way to at least estimate the age of a building is to look at the nails. How so?
Nails have gone through many changes over the past century or two. So often the style of nail will give you a clue. Here are some nail facts to help you out:
Before 1800, all nails were produced by blacksmiths and can seem a little crude compared to the more modern alternatives. As well as a beaten look on the head, older nails were also squared off rather than being rounded.
From 1790 to 1830, Type A and B cut nails were used and these were also squared and created from wrought iron. From 1890 and beyond, nail production moved over to machines so are now rounded and more practical.
Need more help? Contact me and I will be happy to assist!
Remodelling Is a Poor Investment Strategy
Remodelling could greatly raise the quality of life for occupants of a building, however if you think remodelling is an investment, then you want to reconsider that.
Remodelling is rarely a sound monetary investment
In one of the reports published by Remodeling Magazine, the majority f remodelling projects only increase the cost of the building by 60-80 percent and on the average none of the projects yielded any profit. Therefore upgrading your homes are more correctly categorised as consumer spending rather than as real investments, which typically has the possibility of yielding some positive returns.
Seeing that the report only gave the statistics based on averages, there is every possibility that some certain remodelling projects yielded some profits for the home owner(s). For instance nearly half of the time, adding a wooden deck to a mid-priced house situated on the pacific coast will increase its value and displace the cost of construction. And even the most reckless projects evaluated in the research, like buying a backup generator or adding a sunroom could yield profit although they rarely do. Additionally, remodelling projects are more probable to yield profits if they are done on houses considered low-priced for their neighbourhood. But generally, you should carry out a remodelling project just for improving the quality of life for your household and not for investment purposes. So even though you’ll lose more than one third of what you expended on a family room extension, your family will enjoy the extension enough to make up for it.
When Should You Consider Asbestos Repair For Your Home or Business
When it comes to asbestos – whether it’s minor or major – it’s best not to try handling the repairs on your own. After all, if you don’t handle asbestos materials carefully, it can develop a risk where there was none initially.
If you do decide to handle the repairs on your own, you need to arm yourself with a plethora of knowledge on how to handle the asbestos… before you do a single thing! Be sure to talk to your local or state health department or the regional EPA office about different asbestos training programs being held in your area.
Get in touch with your local school district to find out about any training programs or area asbestos professionals. Before you undertake any minor repairs, be sure to enroll in and complete an asbestos training program. And, upon completion of this program, look for damage to the area and do only the minor repairs.
Special Note: If the area damaged is bigger than your hand, this is not a minor repair.
Before you do the repairs, be sure you follow the proper precautions:
Wet asbestos material down with a fine mist of water with a minute amount of detergent.
Commercial products are used to seal up the damaged areas
Wrap a special fabric like re-wettable glass cloth to cover the small areas
Do a search on the Internet for “Safety Equipment and Clothing” to find companies that specialize in asbestos and will do the removal and repair process for you.
Keep in mind removal is an extremely expensive method and should only be considered as the last resort unless dictated by local or state laws. Why? Asbestos removal increases the risk of the fibers being released. If you’re remodeling your home or making huge changes to it, it’s best to call in professionals, as you’re liable to disturb the asbestos material trying to do it yourself.
If you think removing the asbestos will damage the asbestos significantly, you should call in a professional who’s been specially trained in this area. If asbestos isn’t removed properly, it could increase your and your family’s health problems.
Hot Water Tanks
Using a large cylindrical storage tank, this is the traditional system that is normally in place in houses. Whilst cold water is piped into the tank, the water is then heated through a gas-fired burner or electrical elements.
Using a thermostat, you can control the temperature of the water and it remains stored inside the tank until it is used via a faucet, shower, dishwasher, etc. When it is activated somewhere in the house, hot water will pump through the house’s system to reach the destination which is why it may take a few seconds for the taps to warm up.
Nowadays, storage tank options are still widely used because they are an affordable option. Furthermore, many manufacturers are available to help plus they can be bought in different sizes. Despite this, they have their bad sides too.
For example, the heater will have to keep heating the water so it reaches your chosen temperature. Even when you aren’t using the water, the heater will regularly come on to maintain the water temperature. Furthermore, the fact that a tank is used suggests that the supply of hot water is limited. If someone wants to take a shower while the washing machine and dishwasher is in action, the hot water will only go so far. If more water is being used than can be maintained, the heater won’t be able to keep up with demand.
Finally, it should also be noted that they can take up large amounts of space. When there is little room to work with, people often choose a smaller-sized tank but this then limits the amount of hot water that can be stored.
Missing Electric Panel Screws
One thing that always seems to happen whenever doing an electrical inspection is that the electric panel cover (the dead front) is missing one or more panel screws. This is generally something that is obviously not “serious”, but tends to fall into the “missing sock” section of life.
When this becomes and issue is when someone decides that they want to replace the screw with something like a sheetrock screw. The problem is that panel screws are machined – with no point on the end. But othe screws have points on the end and can be dangerous to put in the panel.
So before you decide to replace those missing screws, take a drive to the hardware store and get the proper type of screw.
10 Things You Can Do During Your Home Inspection
Swimming Pool Safety
This time of year is one of those seasons where a swimming pool is one of the most beautiful things. In fact, it is usually so hot outside that the sun makes your regular pool a heated pool!
But whenever a swimming pool is involved, safety is the priority. Every year, children and adults alike are injured or even die in and around swimming pools. SO what can be done.
First, never swim alone. Especially is this true with children. Always have attentive adults who know how to swim watching the children.
Have safety devices around the pool, such as life vests, life preservers, and safety poles.
Also, be sure to have a properly sized fence around the pool with a self closing gate.
So be safe out there, and enjoy those pools!
Home Inspection Report Summaries
One of the services that we provide here at Pelican State Inspections is providing a separate home inspection report summary. Why do we do this and why is it a valuable service?
Well, think of it this way. When we go to the doctor for a physical, he may tell us a lot of information about many things going on with our bodies. He may tell us to cut back on sugar, exercise more, etc. But there may be a couple of very important points that we need to see a specialist about like a heart murmur, a tumor, or something else. While that other information may be great to have, we would appreciate our doctor keying in on the “big points”.
That is a lot like why we provide you with an inspection report summary. It helps you key in on items in your inspection report that are the main points and the most immediate issues.
CLick on the picture above to see the summary report that we provide for you in addition to the home inspection report to help you make an educated decision.
Multi-Family Homes and Home Inspections
Do you have a multi-family home or are you buying one and need a home inspection? Multi-family homes can be a great investment, but they can also be a lot of work if you do not hire the right inspector.
Multi-family units tend not to be as well kept as a single family home, but this is not always the case. Some landlords are better than others. SO when looking at a property to purchase, look at the little things. Do they cut the grass? Is the building clean? Any peeling paint? All of these can be clues as to how the important things in the building may look.
Also, try to get some receipts of work done. If they tend to hire people who are “fly-by-night”, then the workmanship will be like that as well. If they hire contractors that are reputable, then you know that their work wll likely be as well.
And of course, give me a call so that we can give your new building a thorough and complete inspection!
Dryer Vent Routing
If your dryer vent looks like the one in this picture, then you may have a problem. Dryer vents are one of those things that most people tend not to think about too often (or ever). We do our laundry and then we forget it exists. But with dryer fires being a real danger, and also other types of damage, these should not be ignored.
We could quote all sorts of building codes and recommendations all day long, but when it comes down to it, it is common sense. First, remember that the air that comes out of your dryer is two things: (1)Warm, and (2) Wet.
So where does warm air want to go? Up. So keep the length of the vent pipe going in an upward direction. Don’t try to force the air around a lot of bends or have dips in it. Because the air is wet, those bends and dips can also collect moisture, and then the lint sticks to the moisture as well.
So keep your family and home safe. And as always, contact me for a full inspection and we can help you identify any of these items.
What’s Wrong Up On Your Roof?
When was the last time you were on your roof? Most of us do noot venture up there on a regular basis, but we may want to go up there more often than we do.
For instance, the roof is where I often find surprises on a home inspection. This service wire in the picture above is a good example. This service wire feeds the main electric panel from the pole at the street. Unfortunately it was in a very hazardous condition with bare wire being exposed.
This repair ended up being about $1,300 to fix. While not the end of the world in some people’s books, this was more of a safety issue than anything else.
So if you are physically and mentally able, take a trip up to your roof once in a while and make sure that things are in good shape.
Where is Your CO Detector?
For most of us, we don’t really think too much about our CO detectors, but they are an important safety item and could mean our lives if it were ever needed.
So ask yourself “where is my CO detector?”. Many people may not know, and some may be surprised that they do not even have one.
When it comes to CO detectors, more is better. Be sure to install CO detectors in every bedroom and about 10 ft from possible sources of CO
Are Cracks in a Slab Serious?
If you have cracks in your crawlspace slab, are they serious? Generally speaking not. Slabs in most crawlspaces are there for moisture control, cleanliness, and convenience. As a home inspector, it is easy to say that more often than not a crawlspace does not even have one to begin with.
Most slabs are non-load bearing. As they crack and move it is usually more inconvenient than anything else. There are times when the slab IS load bearing or when its movement can affect structural items though. Be sure to contact me and I can help you determine if it is an issue or not.
Main Drain Line Sizes
Should the main drain line be 3″ or 4″ PVC? That is actually a very good question. Both 3 inch pipes and 4 inch pipes are used for main drain lines. So which is better?
It really comes down to being able to vent properly. Whenever water goes down a drain it creates suction. Without proper venting it creates bubbling sinks and toilets. So which pipe size vents better?
First of all, the better drain line size overall is 4″. That is because it can “wet vent”. Basically it means that the pipe is so large that it is hard to put enough water in it to create real suction. So the air and water can pass freely in the pipe. This does not mean that venting is not needed, it is just not as critical and just works better.
A 3″ drain pipe still works though – up to a point. Some say if you have more than 10 drained items (i.e. sinks, toilets, dishwashers, washing machines, showers, etc.) then you would need a 4″ drain. Whether you use that rule of thumb or not, some municipalities require certain drain sizes for certain situations. A 3″ pipe needs to be vented more and can back up slightly easier.
Opening an Electric Panel
Opening an electric panel is one of the most dangerous parts of a home inspection. Not only because of the obvious live electricity in the panel, but also because it is very likely a panel that hasn’t been opened in a while. So what are some precautions that can be taken to help protect yourself when taking the cover off of a panel?
First, let me say this. Unless you are a qualified, trained professional you should NOT take the cover off of your electric panel. You can injure yourself or others.
Now, if you are a trained professional, then here are some things to look for. First, make sure you can see that the panel is grounded. Then look around and make sure there is no sign of pest or moisture intrusion. Using a drill or screwdriver with an insulated handle helps too. Also, if you are wearing a ring, it’s a good idea to take it off. Finally, if there are 6 screws, take the corner screws off first, as the middle ones make it easier to remove the cover.
What Does Masonite Look Like?
Masonite is a fibrous board that was very popular for decades. Masonite is actually a brand name that people use for almost all fibrous board – kind of like how we say “sheet rock” instead of “gypsum board”, or “Romex” instead of “NM cable”.
Masonite was not a terrible product. In fact, it is still used today. The issues was with installation, improper maintenance, and moisture issues.
If you look at the picture above, you can see that even a small amount of moisture can make it fall apart.
Many times someone asks “I have such-and-such amperage, is that enough power?”. Obviously, everyone want to make sure that their home has enough power, but how much is enough?
Ampacity is the number you typically see on your main breker and represents your total power. Let’s go over these.
200 amps – This level of power is considered by most to be a standard nowadays. While it is more common to see 200 amps in most modern services, it is not a standard – it’s a maximum. ost municipalities require you to have a variance if you go higher than this and is usually considered a commercial service. The vast majority of homes will never exceed this.
150 amps – This is also a common amperage. If you have an average sized home and an average sized family, this will be more power than you will ever use.
100 amps – Some people think that is a bad number, but 100’s of 1,000’s of homes run on that amperage and never run out of power. The average family of four at peak usage almost never exceed 60 amps. So 100 amps is %40 more than you would typically need. You may run into issues with adding pools and spas though, as they take extra power.
60 amps – These services are still common in some areas, but not common overall. Some insurance companies don’t like to see this amperage on homes. If this is your amperage, it will likely be functional, but consider upgrading when possible.
As my client, I want you to be informed and stay informed. That is the reason that I have provided the glossary of home inspection terms below. Found an unfamiliar term? Just enter it below and see the results!
Home Inspection Glossary
As we can see in the picture above, there is definitely some corrosion on this copper pipe. Why is this such a common issue? What can be done to help prevent this?
First, let’s look at what can often cause this issue. Then we will see what we can do to fix/help prevent it.
1: Sulfur. Sulfur water (if you have a well) can really wreak havoc on your plumbing system. The sulfur reacts with the copper and corrodes it – from the inside out. Adding a filtration system to your water can do a lot to help prevent this issue.
2: Chinese Drywall. This one is actually about sulfur too. Back in the early 2,000’s some manufacturers in China shipped drywall with a high sulfur content. As this drywall releases sulfur, it corrodes the pipes. To fix this takes a lot of effort obviously, and removing the drywall is usually the best option. Send a sample of the drywall to a lab for verification.
3: Old Pipes. Yep, sometimes pipes and solder just get old and start to corrode. A Saturday afternoon re-soldering some unions is never a bad idea.
Questions? Contact me!