Simple ways to use less energy in the home
A lot of people don’t realize how easy it can be to use less energy in the home. With just a few simple adjustments you can save a lot of money. Here are a few simple ways this can be done:
- Instead of using an air conditioner, which uses a lot of energy, try installing a ceiling fan.
- Maintain and replace filters in air conditioners and heaters
- Turn down your thermostat at night or when you’re not at home
- Draw curtains over windows as this will insulate the room more efficiently
- Switch your incandescent lights to more energy efficient lighting such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light enhancing diodes (LEDs
- Conserve water in your home by installing efficient toilets and shower heads
- Did you know that chargers, such as for cell phones, ipads and laptops etc use energy if they’re plugged in? When not in use unplug them.
These are just a few of the many things that can make your home more energy efficient, however for a more detailed assessment of the energy reducing potential in your home, please contact us, your local Certified Home Inspector.
How can I make my aging parents’ appliances more convenient?
As our aging loved ones get older they are in need of extra care, but do not necessarily want the upheaval of moving from their residence. This is described as ‘aging in place’. This term refers to the desire of aging ones and their families to adjust their current residence in order to cater to their growing needs. While there are many different ways to help them with these needs, making appliances more convenient to use may be a good place to start. Here are some tips;
- Location of microwave oven should be in an easy to reach location. On the counter top or above the oven may be a convenient location.
- Place the refrigerator and freezer side by side and not on top of each other. This will eliminate unnecessary reaching or crouching.
- Side swing ovens are much easier than an oven door that opens towards the floor. Alternatively, an oven mounted on the wall may also make it easier to reach.
- Stoves that are electric and and have level burners will help the user to transfer items without difficulty. Also, controls that are easy to read and located on the front can draw the heat away form the user.
- Front loading Washers and dryers make it much easier than top loading ones.
These are just some ideas to help our aging loved ones ‘age in place’ and make it easier while they use their appliances.
Ways to prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer as it has no odor and cannot be seen, and so attacks without warning. Many instances of Carbon Monoxide poisoning occur in the home, this is largely due to faulty, fuel burning appliances found in the home.
What are some ways that CO Poisoning can be prevented?
It is very important to install Carbon Monoxide detectors, that meet appropriate safety standards on every level of your home, also make sure they are quite close to the bedroom so that they would be easily heard if the alarm goes off.
All appliances need to be installed properly and have maintenance performed on them regularly
If you have a chimney, get it inspected to make sure there is no damage or blockages, also a yearly clean is important
It can be very tempting to try to heat the house with a household appliance such as an oven, but this is very dangerous and should not be done.
Do not keep your car running in the garage, this can be lethal
Please call us to schedule an inspection or if you need help with any questions.
While Aluminum siding is not too popular these days in the construction of homes, it can still be found on many older homes. Here are a few helpful things to know about Aluminum siding.
Is Aluminum siding durable?
Yes, it can actually last up to the life of the building, but only if it is maintained well. It doesn’t rust, and it wont be affected by termites.
How safe is it?
If installed properly, it gives great waterproof protection.
In case of a fire, it will not melt or burn.
Is it aesthetically pleasing?
It can be, as it can be easily painted, however this does tend to need to be redone every few years. It should also be noted that Aluminum siding is prone to scratches and dents which can look rather unattractive and is not too easy to fix.
Some home owners may also have a problem with the noise it can make when rain falls on it.
This is just a very simple look at what to consider with Aluminum siding , however for a more thorough inspection, please contact us and we will be happy to advise you or schedule an appointment.
Fibrous Concrete Reinforcement
Reinforcing concrete to keep it from cracking is nothing new. Even the earliest civilizations used natural fibers to inhibit cracking in masonry structures. Today, synthetic-fiber reinforcement is available to reinforce non-structural concrete applications with superior results. Currently, the most widely used form of reinforcement is welded-wire fabric (WWF), a mesh of steel wires that is placed in concrete. However, synthetic-fiber reinforcement avoids the increased labor costs and difficulty in placement that are associated with WWF.
Synthetic-fiber reinforcement prevents cracks in concrete, unlike WWF, which controls crack width. Cracks actually need to occur before the WWF goes to work. Small-diameter synthetic fibers, such as nylon, glass, steel and polypropylene, are now being added to concrete to reduce shrinkage-cracking by more than 80%, according to independent lab tests. Reducing cracks improves concrete impermeability, increases its toughness and long-term weatherability, and can reduce callbacks in concrete slab floors, decks, driveways, and walkways. According to fiber manufacturers, the placement, curing and finish characteristics of the concrete are not affected by the addition of fibrous reinforcement.
When added at higher content by volume, larger-diameter synthetic fibers, such as steel and polyolefin (added at 0.5% to 1.5%, respectively), also enhance hardened flexural strength, but at an increased cost.
Fibrous reinforcement is used primarily to reduce cracking in non-structural concrete applications. However, steel fibers rust and can cause surface discoloration.
Modular Block Retaining Wall Systems
Modular block or segmental retaining walls employ interlocking concrete units that tie back into the earth to efficiently resist loads. These pre-engineered modular systems are an attractive, economical and durable alternative to stone and poured concrete retaining walls. The inherent design flexibility can accommodate a wide variety of site constraints, project sizes, and aesthetic preferences.
Individual (and usually identical) precast concrete units interlock, offset-stack, or are placed structurally independent of each other and anchored into the backfill. These independent tier systems are advantageous for seismic areas.
The components of a complete system can include foundation soil, leveling pad, precast concrete units of high-strength concrete, shear pins (if units don’t interlock), multiple-depth walls, and additional soil reinforcement, such as geotextile, welded-wire fabric, and dead-man anchors (if the wall is over a certain height), retained soil, and drainage fill.
Some systems have relatively shallow units, while others have units with a tail for deep embedment for taller and more vertical walls (walls are never perfectly vertical). The soil reinforcement consists of horizontal layers that extend into the backfill.
Being gravity structures, these systems rely on their own weight and coherent mass to resist overturn and sliding forces. The segmental feature affords the wall a permeability to relieve hydrostatic pressure, so less material is required for resistance. Because they are considered flexible structures, the footings usually need not reach the frost line. Some systems allow for landscaping of the wall between tiers (depending on site conditions), while others are designed as structural frames to be covered with landscaping.
These systems have been installed all over the U.S.; distributor locations vary per manufacturer.
Masonry walls sometimes show signs of bulging as they age. A wall itself may bulge, or the bulge may only be in the outer wythe. Bulging often takes place so slowly that the masonry doesn’t crack and, therefore, it may go unnoticed over a long period of time. The bulging of the whole wall is usually due to thermal or moisture expansion of the wall’s outer surface, or due to contraction of the inner wythe. This expansion is not completely reversible because, once the wall and its associated structural components are “pushed” out of place, they can rarely be completely “pulled” back to their original positions.
The effects of the cyclical expansion of the wall are cumulative and, after many years, the wall will show a detectable bulge. Inside the building, separation cracks will occur on the inside face of the wall at floors, walls and ceilings.
Bulging of only the outer masonry wythe is usually due to the same gradual process of thermal or moisture expansion; masonry debris accumulate behind the bulge and prevent the course from returning to its original position.
In very old buildings, small wall bulges may result from the decay and collapse of an internal wood lintel or wood-bonding course. This can cause the inner course to settle and the outer course to bulge outward.
When wall bulges occur in solid masonry walls, the walls may be insufficiently tied to the structure, or their mortar may have lost its bond strength. Large bulges must be tied back to the structure; the star-shaped anchors on the exterior of masonry walls of many older buildings are examples of such ties (check with local building ordinances on their use). Small bulges in the outer masonry course often can be pinned to the inner course or dismantled and rebuilt.
Using a Generator
Finding the Home of Your Dreams
We all would like to find the home of our dreams and to avoid falling into a nightmare. But what is the right way to go about that?
One of the best ways to do this is to think about the home inspection before you even put an offer in on the house.
Why is this important? Because one of the hardest parts of being a home inspector is finding serious issues that could have been caught before we even arrived for the inspection.
So before you start thinking about color schemes, how much you like the neighborhood, and how beautiful the kitchen is, try to look at the home with a critical eye.
You don’t need to be an expert, just pay attention to detail. Look up at the ceilings – are there any moisture stains? Look at the floors and walls – do they look level. Turn up the heat, walk around, and do your best.
You may not be as good as a home inspector, but you may be surprised at what you are able to catch on your own.
Preventing Garage Fires
We all know how important it is to be conscious of any potential fire hazard in our home, especially here in Florida, but what about our garage – especially when it’s attached to our house?
Garage fires can occur very easily, this is because our garage is where we store most of our flammable liquids ( paint cans, varnish, gasoline cans to name but a few).
It is also the place we are most likely to work on the car, motorbike, lawn mower etc. Here are a few tips on preventing your garage from being a potential fire hazard:
Clear your garage floor of anything with the potential to ignite easily such as oily rags or paper items, also clean up any spills and mess you may have made while working
Store all your potentially hazardous materials in clear, well-labeled containers
Check that the door that leads to your home from the garage is free from any gaps and is properly sealed, as dangerous fumes such as carbon monoxide can seep into your home
It is recommended that you have the garage checked by a Certified Home Inspector, as they can check to see if your walls and doors meet proper standards of fire safety, and also point out any areas that might need attention.
Having A Retirement Plan For Your Home
If you are approaching retirement age, preparing for a time when advancing age may mean you will be less active is not an enjoyable prospect. It is the course of wisdom though, to plan now to ensure life is a little easier in the future. What kind of plans can be made?
Of course, a healthy lifestyle is important to staying young, but what about our living situation? Can we make adjustments in our home to accommodate changing needs?
Start by looking at any areas of the home that are starting to need work. It might be a good idea to have areas like the roof or heating system inspected. That way you will know what to start budgeting for. Do you have plans to remodel any rooms of the house? Perhaps you could add certain features that would be good for someone with limited mobility.
Do you have family members who will be taking care of you should the need arise? Now is a good time to discuss the plans you have with them, that way they will know your wishes and be able to act accordingly. One subject that is wise to discuss is whether you would like to stay in your home if you become less mobile or if you would be content to move to a place that is equipped for your needs.
This might be a fitting time to think about putting money aside in a separate account for future home maintenance? This can eliminate worry later on. Review your finances and retirement plans to make sure they are all up to date and in order
Although thinking about this is not pleasant, preparing for it will help give you and your family better peace of mind.
Buying a Fixer-Upper
The TV shows make it all look so easy. Buy a fixer-upper, make some repairs, and then live happily ever after. Unfortunately, it is not quite that easy.
Before you buy a fixer-upper, consider a few things. First of all, your skill level. We all would love to think we are master level carpenters. But what about when things come up that you have never handled before? Learning is great, but not on an active heating unit, or with your home’s foundation.
Also, think about time. Do you work full time? Then fixing that house up may take up the majority of your free time.
Think too about the stress levels, especially if you are living in the house while remodeling it. Going without a kitchen is fun for a short time, but weeks go by and the stress of the remodel can build up.
Buying a fixer-upper can be a fun project and a great investment, but be sure you are ready for some of the downsides as well.
Pet Odors in Your New Home
So you found the home of your dreams. You were careful during the buying process, you viewed the home several times, and you checked everything very carefully. But the day you move in – you start to smell it…
This is, unfortunately, a pretty common scenario. Pet odors are pretty easily covered when listing a home, but they often come back afterward. So what can you do with pet odors?
Pet odors are difficult to get rid of, but not impossible. So let’s start with the basics.
First, wash all hard surfaces and repaint. Most people do this anyways when they move in.
After that, get your ductwork professionally cleaned. Many people clean their house, but forget about all of the dander and odor in their ductwork.
Also, if you have any carpeting, consider replacing it and treating under the carpeting at the subfloor. This may seem extreme (and expensive) but carpeting is very (very) difficult to properly clean from pet odors.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions!
Buying a Foreclosed Home
Aluminum Wiring….. Know the dangers
If you are thinking of buying an older home, you might want to consider the possibility that its wired with aluminum wiring.
Is this something you should be concerned about?
Here are a few factors to consider;
- Aluminum has been shown to have certain weaknesses which make it less durable than copper wiring
- Aluminum is a soft metal, which can break down, especially if it has been twisted and bent a lot. and this can pose a real danger
- If exposed to air, aluminum can oxidize which can eventually create a fire hazard.
- If you are considering buying a house that hasn’t been lived in for a while or has been neglected, be aware that electrical fixtures such as outlets and light fittings containing aluminum wiring can become a dangerous fire risk when neglected.
- You might not be able to insure the home if it has aluminum wiring
As you can see from this very brief overview, aluminum wiring can be quite dangerous especially as it poses a much greater fire risk than copper wiring
Please contact us for more information and also advice on what to do if you have aluminum wiring is in your home.
When Home Inspections Matter the Most
You have found the “perfect” home. It has everything you want, is in the right neighborhood, and best of all – it is well maintained and shouldn’t have any problems. Or at least it seems that way.
Whenever someone says they have the perfect house, that is when they need a home inspection the most. Why is that?
Because when a home seems perfect, we can mentally and emotionally put on “blinders” to issues that may be there. We have found some of the most serious defects on properties where people never expected it.
So keep you, your family, and your investment safe and have us perform a professional home inspection for you.
Dryer Fires is Louisiana
Whenever I see a story of another dryer fire in the news, it really hits me. Many times as I am performing home inspections here in LA I see the makings of a dryer fire, which is sad because many times it can be prevented. In the interests of my clients, here are a few reminders about hoe to prevent a dryer fire in your home:
- Clean your lint trap after EVERY use
- Don’t forget to clean the inside of the dryer as well (the lint trap doesn’t catch everything)
- If you own a gas powered dryer, be sure to regularly check for gas leaks
- Clean and check the vent hose regularly
- Clean the area around the dryer well and keep it free of too many items
What We Inspect
Our home inspections are thorough – very thorough. So much so that we have a reputation for it. But just because we are thorough on our home inspections doesn’t mean that we don’t like “another set of eyes”.
We like to work WITH our clients. Even though I run a sink, there is no reason for you to not run it too. The more we work together, the more we find, and the better you understand your home.
Watch this short video to see what we inspect for during your home inspection:
How Is Your Grading?
Many home buyers are unaware of how much slope (grade) is needed around a house foundation, but his is an important issue, because if the grading of your lawn is not proper, runoff can be directed toward your foundation and cause many issues.
So what is a proper rule of thumb? Most organizations agree that 6 inches for the first 10 feet around the home is best. This equals about a 5% slope. But more can be better as well.
Is your grading done properly? Contact us, and we will be happy to answer your questions!
Protect Your Home From Burglars
We all need to protect our homes from burglars, especially this time of year, when many go on vacation, so how about a few tips and pointers on how to do so.
Did you know?
- A high percentage of burglars enter through the first floor of the home, so insuring exterior doors and windows are secure is important.
- Exterior doors should be constructed of a heavy solid material that are not easily broken, and should have good quality deadbolt locks.
- Beware of leaving spare keys in what you believe to be hidden areas. Don’t hide keys in obvious places or close to the door, instead leave them with a neighbor you can trust.
- Install a peephole, so you can see who’s at your door before you open it
- If you absolutely must have a pet door, make sure it’s not located close to a lock and try to have it as small as you can.
- What about sliding glass doors? A cheap fix would be to place a wooden pole or handle of a broom, and place it in the door track so it cannot be opened. These doors should also have top and bottom locks.
- Windows want to be constructed with strong glass and screening should be a heavy-duty wire.
- Burglars don’t want to be seen, so make it as difficult as possible for them by attaching motion sensored lighting all around the house.
What if you’re going to be away?
Try to make it look like someone’s home. Timer activated lights, TV or radio are a good idea. Make sure the yard is kept neat while you are away, also try keeping a car in the driveway.
Please contact us here at Pasco County Home Inspectors for more advice on how to protect your home.