Low concentrations of CO can go undetected and can contribute to ongoing, unidentified illnesses. At high concentrations, it can be deadly
Why is it Dangerous?
If there is CO in the air you breath, it will enter your blood system the same way oxygen does, through your lungs. The CO displaces the oxygen in your blood, depriving your body of oxygen. When the CO displaces enough oxygen, you suffocate.
What are the Symptoms?
Continued exposure or high concentrations –
- Severe headaches
- Cardiac problems
- Breathing difficulties
- Brain damage
Long term exposure to low concentrations –
- Slight headaches
- Shortness of breath with only moderate exertion
- Dizziness and confusion
Any Gas / Solid Fueled appliance can generate it ...... even a Gas Stove so ensure the Exhaust fan vents to the outside of the home
Why is it called "The Great Imitator"?
- Symptoms of CO poisoning are very similar to the flu
- Illness in your pets just preceding illness in a family member may suggest CO poisoning
Who is at Greater Risk?
- Senior citizens
- Unborn babies
- People with respiratory or coronary problems
- Pregnant women
- Young children
Note: Vulnerable people who are exposed even to low levels of CO for long time periods may have similar health affects as those exposed to high concentrations of CO.
What can Produce CO in our Homes?
Anything that burns fuel or generates combustion gases including -
- Gas Stoves
- Space heaters
- Water heaters
Solid fuels, such as wood, always produce carbon monoxide when they are burned. Gas and liquid fuels may produce no CO or very little.
What are the most common sources of Carbon Monoxide?
- Automobile exhaust in attached garages.
This is responsible for 60% of all CO alarms. People who warm their cars up in the garage are trapping CO inside the garage. The CO can find its way into the home.
- Gas cooking appliances
Reported to account for 20% of CO alarms. May be a result of a misused, poorly maintained, poorly installed, or unvented cooking appliance.
3.1 Poor draft/venting for fuel burning appliances – This is one of the most common and serious causes for CO build up and has been reported to account for up to 19% of CO alarms. The products of combustion are not being safely expelled to the exterior. This could be due to venting problems, such as blocked chimney flues or inadequate venting for appliances or fireplaces. Other problems include poor installation and negative air pressure in the house, causing backdrafting, often due to exhaust fans.
Other problems include:
3.2 Poor combustion at furnace - Inadequate combustion air to the furnace can result in incomplete combustion. If the furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, it is possible to get CO into the circulating air. It is also imperative that we do not deprive our heating equipment and fuel burning appliances of air; especially in air-tight homes where running exhaust fans can result in a shortage of combustion air. Combustion air is essential for safe operation of furnaces, water heaters, and other fuel burning equipment.
3.3 Leakage – A leak in a chimney or flue pipe.
3.4 Ventilation – Barbecues or gasoline powered equipment operating in a attached garage, basement, or enclosed area.
Are there more problems with carbon monoxide today than 30 years ago?
Yes, due to -
• More energy-efficient, air-tight homes
• Less natural ventilation
How can I guard against carbon monoxide poisoning?
The first line of defense is to have your home heating systems, fuel burning appliances, flues and chimneys checked and/or cleaned annually.
Specialists should check for:
• Blocked openings to flues and chimneys
• Cracked,rusted,or disconnected flue pipes
• Dirty filters
• Rusted or cracked heat exchangers
• Soot or creosote build-up inside fireplaces and chimney flues
• Exhaust or gas odors.
• Attached garages require gas proofing and automatic closers for doors into the home
• Adequate combustion air
• Adequate venting on indoor combustion appliances (i.e-gas stoves)
The second line of defense is a CO detector.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
• New technology
• Introduced in the early 1990’s
• Designed to warn homeowners when CO reaches dangerous levels within the home
How do they work?
• CO detectors sample the air at specific time intervals
• A microchip inside the detector stores the reading and keeps track of the level of CO that the detector is exposed to over time
Types of sensors:
• Biometric (Oldest type of sensor)
• Metal Oxide Semi-conductor
• Electrochemical (The best of the three types for a residential sensor)
• Infrared – Highly advanced, very expensive. Not something you would find at Home Depot.
The detectors are supposed to sound an alarm when exposed to a set level of CO (measured in parts per million) over a specific time period. These levels or standards are set by UL (Underwriters Laboratories).
Old Standard (Units manufactured between October 1, 1995 and October 1, 1998) - First Generation CO detectors
|To a low level for a prolonged period of time|
|Alarm after 30 days|
|To a low level of CO for an extended period of time|
|Alarm within 90 minutes|
|To a moderate level of CO for a shorter period of time|
|Alarm within 35 minutes|
|To a high level of CO for a short period of time|
|Alarm within 15 minutes|
New Standard (Units manufactured after October 1, 1998)
|To a low level for a prolonged period of time|
|Alarm after 30 days|
|To a low level of CO for an extended period of time|
|Alarm within 189 minutes|
|To a moderate level of CO for a shorter period of time|
|Alarm within 50 minutes|
|To a high level of CO for a short period of time|
|Alarm within 15 minutes|
The UL Standard was revised and any detector manufactured after October 1, 1998 must conform to the new Standard.
Also included in the new Standard is:
• CO detector should ignore a CO level reading of 70 for at least 1 hour without alarming
• CO detector should ignore a CO level reading of 150 for at least 10 minutes without alarming
• Must only signal under alarm or trouble. No low-level warning signal is allowed
• Must have a SILENCE button to shut it off. Must re-alarm after 6 minutes if CO levels persist
• Must meet the specificity test referencing non-alarm status at specific concentrations of certain gases and vapors
To put levels into perspective:
|CO Level (ppm)||Health Effect|
|9||Maximum outdoor air quality level as per EPA|
|50||Maximum concentration for a continuous exposure in an 8-hour time period (OSHA standard)|
|400||Headaches in 1 to 2 hours, life threatening after 3 hours|
|800||Nausea and convulsions, death within 2 hours|
|1600||Nausea within 20 minutes, death within 1 hour|
|12,800||Death within 1 to 3 minutes|
Note: These studies are generally done on young, healthy people. These symptoms can change drastically depending on age, sex, weight, habits (e.g.smoking), and most importantly, your health.The Controversy
• Reliability of the detectors The Issue
• CO detectors are supposed to alarm at certain levels as indicated in the tables above
• Recent testing suggests that many of these devices are not nearly as reliable as they should be
• CBC has provided television coverage that focused on false alarms and the reliability of CO detectors
• In 1994, Chicago was the first major city to make these detectors mandatory in the living space
• In the last three months of 1994, the Chicago Fire Department responded to 8,600 CO alarms
• In almost every case there was no dangerous level of CO found during follow-up investigations
• Laboratory testing was done
• Up to 1/3 of the alarms tested, failed to alarm
• Technology for residential CO detectors is very primitive
• Industrial detectors have a different set of standards and more sophisticated technology. As a result, they are very expensive
• Different detectors have large variances on the levels at which they are supposed to alarm. The sensor technology used in home alarms is not designed to measure and display low level, short term concentrations of CO. Substantial differences exist in the sensitivity of different sensors at low levels. As a result, they may go off too soon or not soon enough.
• Standards require these devices to be tested at a humidity of 50%
• Testing revealed that many devices failed to respond when humidity levels were low even though they are supposed to work within a large humidity range. See your CO detectors manual.
• In Canada, humidity levels can fall well below 50% (in fact the humidity should not be higher than 40%) during the cold season when furnaces and other fuel burning appliances are in full operation
3. Effect of Other Gases and VaporsConclusions
• Other gases such as Carbon Dioxide can also trigger a CO alarm. The UL 2034 Standard requires that CO alarms do not alarm when certain concentrations of other gases and vapors exist in the vicinity of a CO detector. The level for Carbon Dioxide in the old standard was low, which may have contributed to many false alarms with first generation CO detectors.
• CO detectors are designed to protect the average healthy human from death or serious injury under the current standards; however –
• People who are more susceptible cannot depend on these devices for total protection. In this case, more sensitive CO detecting equipment should be used.
• Several groups are working with UL to improve the standards. October 99 revisions have already been drafted.
• There is room for improvement by imposing stricter standards as well as technological development.
• It is critical that people understand the dangers of CO and that the people who investigate it are properly trained and are using CO testing equipment properly. Where to install a CO detector?
• One or more CO detectors in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Usually one per floor.
• Maintain and test regularly as instructed by the manufacturer.
Things to look for when buying a CO detector?How does all of this relate to your home inspection?
1) Type of sensor (electrochemical)
2) Certification-UL 2034
3) Conforms to new standard
4) IAS 6-96 is a supplementary standard to the UL 2034 which includes reliability testing. This standard may not be visible on the box.
5) Other considerations include digital display, sensor life, power source, and warranty.
A home inspection may reveal a potential Carbon Monoxide source.
Common deficiencies found during inspections include:
• Venting deficiencies
• Damaged or rusted flue pipes
• Dirty or blocked chimney flues
• Cracked heat exchangers
• Gas proofing deficiencies
• Inadequate combustion air
• Poorly installed equipment
• Visual Inspection
• Equipment available
There are other ways to test CO levels in a home. These tests go beyond the scope of a standard home inspection
Pre Listing Inspection or Not? (June 2013) : Home Inspections can come in many types and styles. Most common are Pre Purchase (Buyer), approx. 85% of all homes are sold with this as part of the conditions of sale. But they can also be; Construction (New Home or Renovation), WETT Wood Burning Appliance, Septic System, Solar Panel or Pre Listing (Seller) the latter is becoming more and more popular as sellers are increasingly more educated in the values that can be provided. The benefit of a Pre Listing inspection is to give knowledge to the seller, assist in establishing a Fair price for the home or creating a Punch list of issues that could be addressed to prepare the home better for sale, or to establish the price of repairs and be better aware. Then when that Offer arrives and possibly an aggressive buyer that wants to find ways to reduce the purchase price you would find yourself in a better position to negotiate, rather than the reactionary response of a desperately needed quick answer and / or repair, possibly for the wrong price, is then removed from the equation. In a congested market this can also differentiate you from your competitors for that much needed Offer. Our inspectors would make themselves available to discuss the inspection report should you wish to share it with the prospective home owner or visit to accompany the parties on a secondary tour of the home. AH & P can provide any of the needed inspections, scheduled to suit your timing and with a fully written and explained report so you have the information to provide you with "Confidence In Your Future"
Over Using Your Gas Fireplace? (March 1st 2012): A recent survey of household energy use found that 23 per cent of Canadian single- and semi-detached and row-housing reported having a gas fireplace and of those, 22 per cent reported using them every day once the temperatures dip. Depending on the size and location of the fireplace, the added warmth can help ease the furnace's heating burden, causing it to turn on less frequently. But will that save your customers' money? Not necessarily, according to research undertaken at the Canadian Centre for Housing Technology (CCHT). The study tested gas fireplace use and its impact on both furnace use and total gas energy consumption in the CCHT's R2000 certified research house (see HPAC feature on early results from the report at right). Researchers wanted to find out if operating a gas fireplace would reduce total gas consumption. It also looked at whether running the furnace fan continuously had any benefits on heat distribution to rooms away from the fireplace compared to having the fan automatically turn on only when the furnace was required to provide heating for the house. The results showed that, while the furnace came on less frequently during fireplace use, total gas energy consumption overall actually increased by approximately 10 to 16 per cent. This is because the gas fireplace, which had a measured efficiency of only 76 per cent, was offsetting the operation of the furnace with an efficiency of 94 per cent. The study also found that even when the fireplace was not in use, overall gas energy use was six per cent higher compared to the control house because of the gas consumed by the small, but continuously running, pilot light. While running the furnace fan continuously was expected to distribute heat from the fireplace to other rooms more effectively than when run intermittently, the researchers found that operation of the fan had very little influence on the temperatures in other rooms in either mode. In fact, not only was there no difference in heat distribution, continuously running the furnace fan actually increased daily electrical energy use from 6 kWh to 11 kWh, which can be significant given that typical Canadian homes use a total of 15 to 30 kWh per day. Researchers concluded that while gas fireplaces provide a warm ambience during cold Canadian winters, use of a high efficiency furnace as the main method of home heating will save your customers energy and money in
Roofing Contractors - The least price isn't always the Best choice: (May 2013): Ask if the contractor’s laborers are covered by a WSIB certificate. Employees that are not covered by this kind of insurance could sue you in the event of an accident. In this situation or if you are using "Volunteer" labour for you own project you can be considered the "Contractor" and liable for WSIB costs
You should also ask about other types of insurance. What happens if someone accidentally breaks a window? Obviously, the roofing contractors should be responsible for any kind of damage that they do.
Experience is always important for anyone completing a home improvement project. But, it is particularly important when it comes to your roof. Leaks can damage the interior of your home. Shingles can fly off during storms if they are not installed properly. Find out how much experience the contractor has and ask for references.
All of the work should be guaranteed for a reasonable period of time. The guarantee should be in writing and you should receive a copy once the work is completed. Any warrantee that accompanies the materials should be provided as well.
Professional roofing contractors are more than willing to provide written estimates. They will have a good idea of how long it will take to complete the work and what the total cost will be.
There should be an understanding about what happens in the event of cost overruns. There might be some things that are not visible during the inspection and estimation process. So, a job could cost more than was estimated. But, the estimate should be very close to the final cost.
You should have a choice about the quality of the materials that are used to replace or repair your roof. Some roofing contractors cut corners by using cheap materials or reusing existing components in order to put more profits in their pockets.
It’s not a bad idea to get estimates from three or four different contractors. All of the estimates should be relatively close in price.
Be suspicious of any bid that is much lower or higher than the others. The bid could be inaccurate or the contractor might be using inferior materials.
Structural Issues? (March 17th 2013) : Serious structural problems in houses are not very common, but when they occur they are never cheap to fix. Some can't be fixed at all. This report won't turn you into a home inspector, but it will give you some of the common indicators.
Uneven Floors: Uneven floors are typical, particularly in older homes. Here is a trick to help distinguish between a typical home with character and a structural problem.
If the floor sags to the middle of the home, it's probably just a charming old home. Houses are like people, they sag in the middle when they get older. On the other hand, if the floor slopes towards an outside wall, there is a good chance that the house has a significant structural problems. I often use a golf ball to assist in determining this.
A prime indicator of issues are internal doors that will not stay where you set them and or will not close.
Leaning House : While no house is perfect, this is one area where you should be very careful. Take a look at the house from across the street. If the house appears to be leaning one way or the other, there may be a structural problem. It may help to line up a front corner of the house with the back corner of an adjacent house just for reference. The corners should be parallel. Stepping back from the house to take a look is always a good idea. It is easy to miss something major by standing too close to it! If there is a lean that is detectable by eye, don't take any chances, get it checked out.
Horizontal Foundation Cracks are Bad: It is not uncommon to find cracks in the foundation. This goes for new houses as well as old ones. While there is a great deal of engineering that goes into "reading" these cracks, there is one rule that you should never forget. "Horizontal cracks are a problem". Of course not all vertical cracks are acceptable, but they are generally not as serious as a horizontal crack.
Harmless Cracks : Shrinkage cracks in a new house: Most new foundations will develop small vertical cracks. These cracks are a result of the concrete shrinking as it cures. These cracks are about 1 /8 inch wide or less. They don’t affect the structure. The only concern is leakage. If you see small cracks in a new foundation, don’t panic. In fact, in a new home, some builders will pre-crack the foundation and fill the crack with flexible material.
Plaster Cracks: Few things are more misunderstood than plaster cracks on the inside of the house.
The following crack types are not generally related to structural movement:
• a small crack (less than 1 /4 inch) that follows the corner of the room where two walls meet
• small cracks that extend up from the upper corner of a door opening
The following cracks may be related to structural movement –
• large cracks (larger than 1 /4 inch in width)
• cracks that run diagonally across the wall
• cracks on the interior finish that are in the same vicinity as cracks on the exterior of the house.
What To Look For In A Home Inspection? (Dec 1st 2012) For most of us, purchasing a home is the biggest investment we will ever make. The process of purchasing a home is both rewarding and often times stressful. Dealing with contract negotiations, mortgage loans, and mountains of paperwork can be quite overwhelming. The last thing a home buyer needs to worry about is an unforeseen problem with his or her investment. This is why taking the time and investing in a professional home inspection is so important.
Every home has its secrets. A thorough home inspection will not only reveal these secrets, but provide the home buyer with a degree of confidence in the purchase. In addition to the home appraisal, required by most mortgage lenders, the home inspection will help justify the selling price of the home and, in fact, can be a large factor in negotiations.
Unlike a home appraisal, which only provides a cursory market value for the property, a home inspection offers a detailed analysis of the home’s condition. These inspections, when performed by professional contractors, should include an analysis of the home’s major mechanical systems such as furnace and air conditioning systems, plumbing and electrical components, as well as an overall analysis of the roof.
I continue to receive complaints from readers about problems that they discover after closing their home purchase. Most complain about sellers who fail to disclose defects or home inspectors who fail to find them. The system is far from perfect. However, there are steps that buyers can take before and during a home inspection to protect their interests.
Look under any area rug or bed and behind any picture to check for cracked tiles, missing floor covering, stained carpets or walls. Lift anything on the kitchen counters to look for defects. Do any of the appliances show any rust? How old are they? If they are discontinued models, you will likely have to replace them if they break down because of the difficulty of finding replacement parts.
You could spend lots of money fixing moisture-damaged areas, so it's essential an inspector finds all sources of water trouble. Make sure your inspector uses proper moisture-detection devices such as hand-held meters and infrared cameras. A competent inspector will also report on poorly sloped yards, old water stains and even musty smells.
It takes time to do a thorough, comprehensive home inspection. You should have serious reservations about hiring any inspector who says the job will only take two or three hours.
Some inspectors will only cover one door or window in a room. Insist that your inspector look at all doors and windows. Also, find out if the home's heating and cooling systems are functional and adequate.
But first, allow me to congratulate you on your new home purchase. Buying a home is often the largest purchase a person will make in their entire lifetime. It's a very exciting time and I would imagine that you are very anxious to finish the process and get moved into your new home and on with your life.
Your life has probably been pretty crazy lately with all the house hunting, paperwork, dealing with the banks, mortgage companies and the real estate people. It's enough to make you start pulling your hair out. It can be downright stressful.
As a home inspector I work with home buyers all the time. I understand what you've been through to find and get the right home for you. But I have to ask you this important question - With all the effort you've been through to get your home, don't you want to be sure that the home you're buying is safe, sound, and secure for you and your family?
Purchasing a new home is a large investment. Not only will you pay for the home, but also for the furniture, appliances, clothes, and food that you will need to live in it for the rest of your life. Thus, the last thing you need is a home with significant damages that you will have to cover in out-of-pocket expenses. The following factors to look for in a home inspection will help you know what a home inspector does and will help you check these same areas from year to year in your own home.
First, the home inspector will check the home structure. The structure includes both the frame and foundation of a home. Inspectors will look at the structure to see if there are cracks, holes, water damage, or looseness. If the foundation of a home is in dire straits, it would mean life or death to inhabit the home.
Next, the home inspector will check the outside home environment. Porches, windows, doors, decks, patios, and driveways are the common elements to check. If there are holes in the windows, or an opening in the windows that allows air and other elements to seep in, it would be best to refrain from buying the home.
How often have buyers been left holding the short stick when it comes to problems with a house? Who’s to blame?; you, the agent, the seller, or the attorney? Ultimately, it’s you for paying attention to the agent or worst the actual homeowner. Never, never buy a home without having a professional inspect it first. It’s perhaps the best money you’ll ever spend even if you don’t buy the home. Here are a few items I would look for if I was buying a home for myself.
Long horizontal cracks in the foundation. Cracks are normal, but horizontal/vertical cracks may be a form of movement by the house. They’re caused be settling or movement of the house. It’s bound to happen… homes are heavy.
White wrapping around the pipes in the basement. Look for the wrapping that looks like an old cast used when you break bone on your arm or leg. This is typically asbestos. Asbestos was used during the 60′s as a fire retardant. This thing won’t catch on fire no matter what, but it can be hazardous to your health. When in doubt, have it tested. Most home inspectors can determine what it is without having to touch it.
Just another example of why you should get a home inspection prior to spending your hard earned money on your dream home. As you can see by the picture, a shoddy repair job would have given a few clues something wasn’t right. As a buyer of a house, what would you have done next?
Part of my passion as a Hespeler area home inspector is to get to the bottom of little things that others wouldn’t think to observe. My first move was to look at different areas located around this particular area, ie, laundry room, bathroom, etc. When looking in a very small linen closet next to this room I came across another ceiling issue the present homeowner failed to look at or hide and the next pic shows what I had found.
As you can see, we got a little growth going on. Although the growth hasn’t been tested for mold yet, we can come to our own conclusions. So we know this is a moisture problem and the next step is to isolate where the moisture was coming from. Above the area in the attic, there was only the vent pipe for the dryer coming up through the ceiling and going up and discharging through the roof. As you can see by the next picture, someone definitely had come and repaired a previous leak from the dryer vent that penetrated through the roof.
Home inspections are now considered so routine that an estimated 77% of all home buyers invest in one. Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Like any investment, you will want to know as much information about your purchase as possible. A comprehensive, professional home inspection is designed to help you with that effort.
A home inspection is not a to-do list for the seller. Over the past quarter-century two of the most common questions asked of home inspectors are "Who should make the repairs?" and "Should I buy this house?" The role of the home inspector is to provide the buyer with their opinion of the home's condition at the time of inspection. Because each real estate sales contract and transaction is different, a buyer's real estate sales professional or lawyer is better qualified to answer these type of questions. A home inspection is not a pass/fail test. "It is up to the buyer to determine whether or not the home passes his own test. A couple looking to totally renovate a home may realize that the need for lots of repairs to the mechanical systems doesn't matter to them. Conversely, a young couple buying a 'starter home' in which they plan to live only a few years may find a home with many problems is just not for them." It does not make a home purchase risk-free. Most home inspection companies utilize an inspection contract that outlines the specifics of the home inspection, as well as its limitations. But it's important to remember that while a home inspection is designed to reduce the risk in buying a home, it cannot eliminate that risk.
Choose wisely when it comes to selecting a home inspector. Even in areas where there is mandatory licensing, credentials among inspectors can vary dramatically. Price should not be the reason to select a home inspector. Make sure that your home inspector carries insurance and is up to date with their ongoing training programs from the National Institute of Building Inspectors. It is also important to make sure that an inspector provides a written inspection report that includes pertinent details on the condition of major elements of the home. Look for a home inspector that encourages you to go along on the inspection. The inspection is a terrific introduction to a home. A professional inspector can answer questions, demonstrate how to operate various systems in the home, and provide helpful maintenance suggestions. Heed the inspector's advice. Deficiencies found on an inspection will continue to deteriorate through usage and age. Plan on addressing any outstanding concerns as soon as possible. A professional home inspection is the best investment a home buyer can make.
Imagine a hands-on career that will have you climbing over, under and through houses searching for any defects that could cause problems for the owner or prospective owner. Professionals in the home inspection field physically inspect the entire home or building and complete a detailed report on the condition of all components, mechanical systems and the overall structure. The report is then used as a tool for making important decisions regarding the purchase of the home or building or factors such as its insurability.
Home owners and home buyers rely on the home inspector to advise them on their biggest investment. Therefore, the home inspector must be knowledgeable in how to inspect a home’s major components and systems and what problems to look for. Being able to report on the condition of the home in a clear, concise manner is also important.
A home and commercial property inspection is important if you are addressing real estate. Many say that home and commercial property inspection might be one of the most crucial elements which may decide over your success in buying or selling. This text will talk over some of the numerous reasons you should have your home and commercial properties looked over prior to deciding to buy the property.
You will find vast variances between acquiring commercial and residential properties, however when it comes to having those properties inspected, the reasons for the actual examinations tend to be similar. The primary reason you have to have home and commercial property inspections is always to safeguard yourself. People who perform property inspections are usually highly skilled to find things that nearly all buyers wouldn’t normally think to look for in real estate. They are also trained to know the laws and building codes with regard to their region. This can be useful to the purchaser.
Whenever an inspector is performing a property inspection they will look at the building along with the property as a whole. They’ll examine the foundation, the roofing, the electrical system, the cooling and heating system, and they’re going to check for signs and symptoms of bug or some other problems. They’ll then record their findings to you together with suggestions in regards to what you should ask the seller to repair before you purchase the property. They might even recommend that you not buy the property based on their inspection. This may prevent you from getting a property that’s going to be a waste of money
Looking For a New Furnace: (Oct 19th 2012) AFUE means Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. To evaluate the energy use of furnaces / boilers, it provides a % measure of the energy used for heating versus energy wasted. AFUE ratings are displayed on all recent furnaces as per Federal Trade Commission requirements.
When shopping for furnaces / boilers, a higher rating means higher efficiency. Example, a rating of 80 percent means the furnace uses 80 percent of its energy to produce heat and the other 20 percent is lost. Note that the rating doesn’t include heat loss through the duct system or piping, which can be up to 35 percent of the heat being used, especially if ducts are in the attic.
Electric furnaces and boilers are the most energy efficient, with a rating of between 95 and 100 percent, partly because they have no energy loss through a chimney / flue. Despite these units’ efficiency, the cost of electricity per BTU (heating unit) may make the overall savings negligible.
The minimum allowed AFUE rating was established by the Federal Trade Commission. The rating for non-condensing fossil fueled furnaces can’t be below 78 percent, whereas a fossil-fueled boiler’s minimum rating is 80 percent. A steam boiler that’s gas fueled must be rated no lower than 75.
Even with these stringent requirements, older and less efficient furnaces still exist and may be rated as low as 55.
For the purpose of energy conservation and heating costs, knowing the AFUE of a furnace is important in effectively determining which brand or type of heating system will best suit your needs. These ratings are useful in evaluating the cost of a furnace relative to how much money it will save you in the long run
Tired of Weeding: (Sept 19th 2012) Zap Them With Salt:Salt will kill many weeds that can't be pulled up from the roots. Use a garden fork to scrape the soil away from the base of the weed and then cut the stem as close to the ground as possible. Pour salt onto the wound, trying your best not to spill any into the soil.
Drive Them from Cracks with Vinegar and Salt:
If weeds or grass sprout from cracks in your driveway, sidewalk, or any other outdoor paved surface, squirt them with a vinegar and salt solution. To make it, combine 2 cups vinegar, ¼ cup salt, and 2 drops liquid dish detergent in a jar, screw the cap on tightly, and shake well. A simpler alternative is pouring boiling salted water into the cracks. When applying either weed killer, make sure no runoff reaches your garden plants.
Make Your Own Weed Killer:Chemical-laden weed killers do the job, all right, but so do greener alternatives that are easy to make at home. Whatever your views of conventional vs. organic gardening, it's always wise to try weed killers with low toxicity before using harsher poisons. The acetic acid in vinegar kills the leaves of a weed, not the root — but if you apply this spray often enough it will deplete the weed's stored energy reserves and kill off the intruder.
- 2 cups water
- 1½ cups vinegar (white or cider)
- ½ cup dishwashing liquid
Using a funnel, pour all of the ingredients into a 1-litre spray bottle and shake well to mix. Spray the solution directly on weeds, taking care not to spray any surrounding grass or desirable plant
Mix a Poison Ivy Weed Killer
Poison ivy is one weed you don't want to mess around with. Kill it with a spray of vodka and water. Combine 2 tablespoons vodka with 2 cups water and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Vodka's dehydrating action will kill poison ivy soon after the leaves are saturated.
Newspaper and Plastic Smotherers:
If part of your garden seems a little too weed-friendly, try one of these mulches to keep undesirable plants from sprouting.
Newspapers: Wet several sheets of newspaper so that they cling together, and then set the mat over a
patch of weeds. Camouflage the mat by topping it with wood chips or other mulch. Remove it once the
weeds are kaput
Trash bags: Split the seams of black plastic trash bags to double their size and use them to blanket the
problem spot. Spiff the plastic up with wood chips or such and leave it in place 10-14 days
— by which time the weeds should be dead and gone.
VERMICULITE: (Aug 17th 2012) If you have never seen vermiculite insulating an attic, you may have seen it in potting soil. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral worldwide. When heated rapidly to high temperatures, this crystalline mineral expands into low density, accordion-like, golden brown strands. In fact, its worm-like shape is what gives vermiculite its name. The worms are broken into rectangular chunks about the size of the eraser on the end of a pencil. In addition to being light, vermiculite chunks are also absorbent and fire retardant. These characteristics make it great as an additive, for example to potting soil. It also makes a good insulating material.
Where Was It Used? Sold under various brand names, such as Zonolite Attic Insulation, the insulation came in big bags. Thousands of homeowners simply opened the bags and poured the vermiculite onto their attic floor and sometimes down exterior walls. It was generally not used in new construction.
When Was It Used? Worldwide, vermiculite has been used in various industries as long ago as 1920. With the upsurge in home ownership during the baby boom, vermiculite insulation was a popular material in the 1950’s, and continued with the energy crisis into the late 1970’s. In Canada, it was one of the insulating materials allowed under the Canadian Home Insulation Program from about 1976 to the mid-1980’s. The CHIP program provided grants to homeowners to increase insulation levels, reducing energy consumption.
What Is The Problem? The majority of the vermiculite used worldwide was from a mine in Libby, Montana, owned and operated since 1963 by W.R. Grace. The mine was closed in 1990. As well as being rich in vermiculite, this mine had the misfortune of having a deposit of tremolite, a type of asbestos. When the vermiculite was extracted, some tremolite came in with the mix.
For Canadian use, the raw product from the Libby mine was shipped to Grace subsidiary F. Hyde processing plants in Montreal, St. Thomas, Ajax and Toronto, and Grant Industries in western Canada. At these plants, it was processed and sold as Zonolite.
What Is The Risk? Asbestos minerals tend to separate into microscopic particles that become airborne and are easily inhaled. People exposed to asbestos in the workplace have developed several types of life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer. Workers in and around the Libby mine developed serious health problems. Like any hazards, length and intensity of exposure are major factors in the risk of asbestos-related respiratory illness. To assess the risk of asbestos exposure at a house, a sample of the vermiculite would need to be analyzed by a lab. Since most of the vermiculite used in Canada was taken from the Libby mine, the odds are quite good that there is asbestos in the vermiculite in Canadian attics.
The good news is that we don’t live in our attics. In addition, as long as it is undisturbed, neither the asbestos fibers bound up in the vermiculite chunks nor the dust will be released into the air. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the U.S., “Most people who get asbestos-related diseases have been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time.” Lastly, most of the time the air in your house flows from the house into the attic, rather than into the house from the attic.
The bottom line is, like most household products that may contain asbestos, and there are many, doing nothing is often the best approach. Naturally, the risk of exposure increases with the amount of time spent in the attic.
Recommendations: If the attic or walls of a house contain vermiculite insulation, leave it alone. Avoid disturbing the material. Do not sweep it or vacuum it up. Do not store belongings in the attic.
If work is planned that involves these areas, for example installing potlights in a room below the attic, send a sample of the vermiculite to a private lab. Send several samples, and use a lab specializing in asbestos analysis. If it is found to contain asbestos, or if you just assume it does, precautions should be taken. The safest approach would be to have the insulation in the affected areas removed by a qualified environmental contractor.
For smaller jobs it may be sufficient to isolate work areas with temporary barriers or enclosures to avoid spreading fibers, use disposable protective clothing, and use proper respiratory protection. An important note – disposable respirators or dust masks are not appropriate for asbestos. Again, it is best to consult a qualified contractor.
SEPTIC SYSTEM POINTERS: (July 13th 2012)
Removable/ Cleanable filter on outlet of tank - Required after 2008 for all new installations. Clean every 6 - 12 months or as required
Dual compartments on tanks and PVC piping - Required after 1978
Life of Steel tanks 15 - 20 years
Check for corrosion of Concrete tanks especially on exit areas
When originally designing your system OVERSIZE the tank as home modifications over the future life of the home may overload a marginal system
Maintain 16 feet to tree line from all components
Permits ARE required for ALL modifications to system
Life of well Maintained and Designed system - 30 / 40 years
Do NOT over use Liquid fabric softeners
Sodium Fluorocene is the dye used when testing the discharge area of the weeping bed and may take many days up to multiple weeks to show results
TRUSS UPLIFT (June 17th 2012) :Truss uplift has nothing to do with plastic surgery or under-garments. It is a phenomenon common in homes built with roof trusses as opposed to rafters. If a house suffers from truss uplift, the top floor ceilings literally lift off the interior walls in the winter. They drop back down in the summer. Needless to say, this is a tad disconcerting to the homeowner. At first glance, one might assume that the floors have settled. Actually the ceiling has gone up - sometimes creating a gap of as much as two inches where interior walls meet the ceilings.
What is a Truss? Trusses are prefabricated structural assemblies which hold up the roof and the top floor ceilings. Trusses tend to be a stronger lighter and less expensive approach to roof framing.
Trusses are strong because they make use of the most efficient geometric shape we know of - the triangle. Trusses are a series of triangles fastened together with gusset plates. The outside members of a truss are called chords while the inner pieces are known as webs.
Why Truss Uplift? Houses have changed over the years. Attics of newer houses have lots of insulation and ventilation. They also have roof trusses instead of rafters and ceiling joists.
The bottom chord of a truss is buried below a deep blanket of insulation. Even on the coldest days the bottom chord is nice and warm. The top chords however, are above the insulation and get very cold in a well ventilated attic.
While the bottom chord is warm and is drying out, the top chords are doing just the opposite. The cold winter air has very high relative humidity. The top chords absorb moisture from the air causing them to elongate.
With the top chords growing and the bottom chord shrinking, the truss arches up in the middle causing the ceilings to lift off the walls. In the summer, the cycle reverses itself.
What Is The Problem? No problem really - from a structural point of view. But cosmetically it's another story. No one has yet solved the problem, but some builders mask it by securing the ceiling drywall to the top of the walls and not to the trusses for a distance of 18 inches away from the walls. The drywall flexes and stays fastened to the walls while the trusses lift above it.
Others use a decorative molding where the walls meet the ceilings. They fasten the moldings to the ceilings but not to the walls. As the ceilings move up, the moldings go with them hiding the gap.
One little tip to remember. If you're redecorating, always do it in the winter when the ceiling is at its highest point. Otherwise you'll have a stripe around the room below the molding next winter!
GFCI : (May22nd 2012)The outlets with the colored "Test" and "Reset" buttons are specially designed to better protect people than ordinary outlets. GFCI's have been used in houses since the 1970's.
Why Are They Used? GFCI's are designed to shut power off if there is a very small leak of electricity (a ground fault) which ordinary outlets wouldn't notice. Normal outlets are shut off by a fuse or breaker if more than 15 amps flows. This prevents fires, but since people can be killed by 1 amp or less, fuses may not protect people from shock. GFCI's shut off power if a leak as small as .005 amp occurs.
How Do They Work? A GFCI detects a leak by comparing how much electricity comes back through the white wire to how much was sent in the black wire. When everything is working correctly, the current flow is the same. If a little electricity is leaking out, it may be going through a ground wire or through part of the house. If this happens, the black wire will have more electricity than the white wire. Electricity, like most people, will follow the path of least resistance. If a person touches a leaky electrical system, they may present a better route to ground for electricity, since they may offer very little resistance.
Another way of saying this, is that the person may be a very good conductor or the person may not be well insulated. The electricity will flow through the person, giving them a shock. Without a GFCI, this can be fatal. With a GFCI, the little leak would be detected and the power would be shut off.
Where Are They Used? In Canada, GFCI's are now required by Code for outdoor outlets, bathroom outlets and whirlpool outlets. Electrical systems for swimming pools are also GFCI protected. In the newer homes, kitchen outlets within six feet of the sink must also be GFCI protected. 4 feet in new build homes.
Can The Outlet Be GFCI Protected If There Is No Button?Yes, if for example, the circuit breaker back at the panel has a "Test" button, it may be a GFCI breaker. This will protect everything on that particular circuit. Any outlets wired downstream of a GFCI outlet are also protected if the GFCI is wired correctly.
Can They Be Added To Older Houses? Yes, GFCI's can be added to any electrical system. They are more expensive than regular outlets ($15-$20 vs. $1-$2), but are inexpensive insurance. While they do not replace grounding systems exactly, some Codes do allow GFCI's in lieu of grounding in some cases. It is safe to say that a circuit protected by a GFCI is better protected than one without.
Note: Just because they are there and "apparantly" trip that doesnt mean that they are functional, always test with an approved tester to ensure the power is isolated when you believe it is
Plastic Plumbing Distribution piping PROBLEMS: (April 26th 2012) If you have certain types of Pex plastic piping (P-pex or MB-pex) installed to distribute the water in your home then potential problems have been identified with the brass connectors and stainless steel clamps that have been corroding. These systems have been installed between 1999 and 2005 in many homes and also in commercial installations. Leaks can result or at least reductions in flow caused by clogging corrosion bi-products. A class law suit is being finalised in Canada that should pay to repair damage, leaks and ultimately replace complete plumbing systems assuming you qualify, systems installed prior to 1999 may not. There is an existing concern for Ki Tech brand plastic piping that has been known for several years where it can burst due to the internal metal liner fracturing. The manufacturer has discontinued the product and adaptors that are used to repair the damaged tube are becoming extremely difficult to source according to plumbing specialists.
Both types of material should have markings existing that will identify them, KI Tec may be red, blue or orange in colour.
This WILL become a concern in many ways for existing owners and potential purchasers.
For further details please contact me or refer to www.CanadianPlumbPexSettlement.ca
Solar Panels: (April21st 2012) This also is becoming a very popular item being added to homes where home owners are environmentally aware or just looking to reduce costs. There are some concerns however:
First is the roof structure adequate to support the added weight? Ensure the installation is done by competent contractors as moisture is the enemy of the home and once you even walk on a roof damage can be done, let alone when mounting a myriad of supports and structure up there.
Is the roof in a serviceable condition prior to installing the panels? Although given 10 - 15 days the installer likely will be willing to remove the panels and then reinstall them after the re shingling is complete at no charge ( check contract for specific details) I'm sure they wouldn't like to be doing this after 6 months or less
Is the roof optimum for solar panel installation. Facing true South and a large flat uninterrupted roof is best, with limited shading from adjacent trees
Ensure you contact your insurance company as some are definitely anti Solar Panels due to concerns from some Fire Departments especially volunteer groups that are apprehensive about accumulated electrical charges especially if the panels are charging a battery pack system
All fasteners should be stainless steel and wiring copper not aluminum, both to limit corrosion and the associated issues
Note there have been some reports of health issues when people are sensitive to Electromagnetic Fields also.
Some lending companies are uneducated in this process so your lender, or the new home owners lender may have a hard time evaluating the risk/ reward relationship. Ensure that transfer can be carried out seamlessly as usual periods of 20 years lease are common
Glossary of Recalls on Various Furnaces: (April 4th 2012)
There have been times when we ALL could not remember that term or we have ALL been the one in the room with least experience and didn't want to ask what it was that the other person was referring to. The following list may be valuable in that circumstance. Greater detail and drawings can be found in a CMHC publication Canadian Wood Frame House Constuction. If I can assist in any way please do not hesitate to ask.
Building Technical Terms Explained ( Mar 25th 2012 )
Abs— A type of black plastic pipe commonly used for waste water lines.
Aggregate— Crushed rock or stone.
Air chamber— A vertical, air filled pipe that prevents water hammer by absorbing pressure when water is shut off at a faucet or valve.
Air-conditioner condenser— The outside fan unit of the air conditioning system. The condenser discharges heat to the building exterior.
Alligatoring— Coarse checking pattern on the surface of a material. Typically caused by ageing, exposure to sun and/or loss of volatiles.
Ampacity— Refers to the how much current a wire can safely carry. For example, a 12-gauge electrical copper wire can safely carry up to 20 amps.
Asphalt— A bituminous material employed in roofing and road paving materials because of its waterproofing ability.
Backfill— The replacement of excavated earth into a trench or pit.
Backflow— A reverse flow of water or other liquids into the water supply pipes, caused by negative pressure in the pipes
Ballast— A transformer that steps up the voltage in a florescent lamp.
Balusters— Vertical members in a railing used between a top rail and bottom rail or the stair treads. Sometimes referred to as pickets or spindles.
Base sheet— Bottom layer of built-up roofing.
Batt— A section of fiberglass or rock-wool insulation.
Bay window— Any window space projecting outward from the walls of a building, either square or polygonal in plan.
Beam— A structural member transversely supporting a load. A structural member carrying building loads (weight) from one support to another. Sometimes called a girder.
Bearing wall— A wall that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.
Bird’s-mouth cut — A cutout in a rafter where it crosses the top plate of the wall providing a bearing surface for nailing. Also called a heel cut.
Bitumen— Term commonly applied to various mixtures of naturally occurring solid or liquid hydrocarbons, excluding coal. These substances are described as bituminous. Asphalt is a bitumen. See Asphalt.
Blocking— Small wood pieces to brace framing members or to provide a nailing base for gypsum board or paneling.
Board and batten — A method of siding in which the joints between vertically placed boards or plywood are covered by narrow strips of wood.
Bottom chord— The lower or bottom horizontal member of a truss.
Brick tie— Metal strips or wires that are inserted into the mortar joints of the brick veneer. Ties hold the veneer wall to the backer wall behind it.
Brick veneer— A vertical facing of brick used to clad a building. Brick veneer is not a load-bearing component.
Building paper— A general term for papers, felts and similar sheet materials used in buildings without reference to their properties or uses. Generally comes in long rolls.
Built-up roof— A roofing composed of three to five layers of asphalt felt laminated with coal tar, pitch or asphalt. The top is finished with crushed slag or gravel. Generally used on flat or low-pitched roofs.
Butt joint— The junction where the ends of building materials meet. To place materials end-to-end or end-to-edge without overlapping.
Cant strip — A triangular shaped piece of lumber used at the junction of a flat deck and a wall to prevent cracking of the roofing which is applied over it.
Cantilever— Any part of a structure that projects beyond its main support and is balanced on it.
Cap flashing— The flashing covering over a horizontal surface to prevent water from migrating behind the base flashing.
Cap sheet — The top layer in modified bitumen roofing.
Casement window — A window with hinges on one of the vertical sides and swings open like a door.
Ceiling joist— One of a series of parallel framing members used to support ceiling loads and supported in turn by larger beams, girders or bearing walls. Can also be roof joists.
Cement— The grey powder that is the “glue” in concrete. Portland cement. Also, any adhesive.
Certificate of Occupancy— Certificate is issued by the local municipality and is required before anyone can occupy and live within the building. It is issued only after the local municipality has made all inspections and all monies and fees have been paid.
Cfm (cubic feet per minute)— A rating that expresses the amount of air a blower or fan can move. The volume of air (measured in cubic feet) that can pass through an opening in one minute.
Chase — A framed enclosed space around a flue pipe or a channel in a wall, or through a ceiling for something to lie in or pass through.
Checking— Cracks that appear with age in many large timber members. The cracks run parallel to the grain of the wood. At first superficial, but in time may penetrate entirely through the member and compromise its integrity.
Cleanout— An opening providing access to a drain line. Closed with a threaded plug.
Closed-cut valley— A method of valley treatment in which shingles from one side of the valley extend across the valley, while shingles from the other side are trimmed 2 inches from the valley centerline. The valley flashing is not exposed.
Collar tie— Nominal one- or two-inch-thick members connecting opposite roof rafters. They serve to stiffen the roof structure.
Column— A vertical structural compression member that supports loads acting in the direction of its longitudinal axis.
Combustion air and ventilation air— The ductwork installed to bring fresh, outside air to the furnace or boiler room. Normally two separate supplies of air are brought in: one high for ventilation and one low for combustion.
Compressor — A mechanical device that pressurizes a gas in order to turn it into a liquid, thereby allowing heat to be removed or added. A compressor is the main component of conventional heat pumps and air conditioners. In an air conditioning system, the compressor normally sits outside and has a large fan (to remove heat).
Concrete board or cement board — A panel made out of concrete and fiberglass, usually used as a tile backing material.
Condensate drain line— The pipe that runs from the air conditioning cooling coil to the exterior or internal building drain, to drain away condensation.
Condensation — The change of water from vapor to liquid when warm, moisture-laden air comes in contact with a cold surface.
Condensing unit— The outdoor component of a cooling system. It includes a compressor and condensing coil designed to give off heat.
Conduit, electrical— A pipe, usually metal, in which wire is installed. The pipe serves to protect the wire.
Control joint — Tooled, straight grooves made on concrete floors or structures to “control” where the concrete should crack (as a result of shrinkage).
Cooling load — The amount of cooling required to keep a building at a specified temperature during the summer, usually 25° C, based on a design outside temperature.
Corbel— To build out one or more courses of brick or stone from the face of a wall. This may be decorative, or serve to support a structural component.
Counterflashing— A metal flashing usually used to cover another flashing and prevent moisture entry.
Course— A row of shingles or roll roofing running the length of the roof. Parallel layers of building materials such as bricks, or siding laid up horizontally.
Cpvc— See pvc.
Crawlspace— A shallow space below a building, normally enclosed by the foundation walls.
Cricket— A saddle-shaped, peaked construction connecting a sloping roof plane with a wall or chimney. Designed to encourage water drainage away from the chimney or wall joint.
Culvert— Round, corrugated drain pipe (normally 15 or 18 inches in diameter) installed beneath a driveway and parallel to and near the street.
Cupping— A type of warping that causes boards or shingles to curl up at their edges. Typically caused by uneven drying or loss of volatiles.
Curb— The short elevation of a supporting element above the deck of a roof. Normally a box (on the roof) on which a skylight or piece of mechanical equipment is attached.
Curtain wall— An exterior building wall that is supported entirely by the building structure, rather than being self-supporting or load-bearing.
Damper— A metal “door” placed within the ductwork, typically. Used to control flow of air, etc., in the ductwork.
Damp-proofing— The black, tar-like material applied to the exterior of a foundation wall. Used to minimize moisture penetration into the wall.
Deck— The surface, installed over the supporting framing members, to which the roofing is applied.
Dedicated circuit— An electrical circuit that serves only one appliance or a series of electric heaters or smoke detectors.
Dew point — Temperature at which a vapor begins to deposit as a liquid. Applies especially to water in the atmosphere.
Disconnect— A large electrical on-off switch.
Diverter valve— A device that changes the direction of water flow from one faucet to another.
Dormer— A box-like projection from the sloping plane of a roof that frames a window.
Double-hung window— A window with two vertically sliding sashes, both of which can move up and down.
Downspout— A pipe for draining water from roof gutters. Also called a leader.
Drain tile— A perforated, corrugated plastic pipe laid at the bottom of the foundation wall and used to drain excess water away from the foundation. It prevents ground water from seeping through the foundation wall. Sometimes called perimeter drain.
Drip—A groove in the underside of a sill or drip cap to cause water to drop off on the outer edge instead of drawing back and running down the face of the building.
Ducts— Usually round or rectangular metal pipes installed for distributing warm or cold air from the heating and air-conditioning equipment.
Eaves protection— Additional layer of roofing material applied at the eaves to help prevent damage from water backup (typically caused by ice damming).
Eifs—Exterior Insulation Finish System. An exterior cladding system that employs a relatively thin acrylic stucco coating over insulation panels. (Pronounced “ee-fus”)
Elbow— A plumbing or electrical fitting that lets you change directions in runs of pipe or conduit.
Evaporator coil— The part of a cooling system that absorbs heat from air passing through it. The evaporator coil is found within the ductwork.
Expansion joint— A joint that allows for building material expansion and contraction caused by temperature changes.
Exposed aggregate finish— A method of finishing concrete which washes the cement/sand mixture off the top layer of the aggregate — usually gravel. Often used with precast concrete exterior wall finishes.
Exposure— The portion of the roofing or wall cladding material exposed to the weather after installation.
Fascia— a vertical member attached to the ends of the roof structure and often the backing of the gutter.
Felt— Fibrous material saturated with asphalt and used as an underlayment or part of a built-up roofing system.
Finger joint— A manufacturing process of interlocking two shorter pieces of wood end to end to create a longer piece of dimensional lumber or molding. Often used in jambs and casings and are normally painted (instead of stained).
Fire stop— A solid, tight closure of a concealed space, placed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke through such a space. Includes stuffing wire and pipe holes in the fire separations.
Flashing— (1) Sheet metal or flexible membrane pieces fitted to the joint of any roof intersection, penetration or projection (chimneys, copings, dormers, valleys, vent pipes, etc.) to prevent water leakage. (2) The building component used to connect portions of a roof, deck, or siding material to another surface such as a chimney, wall, or vent pipe. Often made out of various metals, rubber or tar and is mostly intended to prevent water entry.
Flatwork— Common word for concrete floors, driveways, patios and sidewalks.
Flue— The space or passage in a chimney through which smoke, gas, or fumes ascend.
Fluorescent lighting— A fluorescent lamp is a gas-filled glass tube with a phosphor coating on the inside. Gas inside the tube is ionized by electricity which causes the phosphor coating to glow. Normally with two pins that extend from each end.
Footing — A widened, below-ground base of a foundation wall or a poured concrete, below-ground, base used to support foundations or piers.
Forced air heating— a common form of heating with natural gas, propane, oil or electricity as a fuel. Air is heated through a heat exchanger and distributed through a set of metal ducts.
Form— Temporary structure erected to contain concrete during placing and initial hardening.
Foundation— The supporting portion of a structure below the first floor construction, or below grade, including the footings.
Framing— The structural wood, steel or concrete elements of the building.
Framing, balloon— A system of framing a building in which all vertical structural elements of the bearing walls consist of single pieces extending from the top of the foundation sill plate to the roof plate and to which all floor joists are fastened.
Frost line— The depth of frost penetration in soil and/or the depth at which the earth will freeze and swell. This depth varies in different parts of the country.
Furring— Strips of wood or metal applied to a wall or other surface to even it and normally to serve as a fastening base for finish material.
Gable— A sidewall, typically triangular, that is formed by two sloping roof planes.
Gable roof— A type of roof with sloping planes of the same pitch on each side of the ridge. Has a gable at each end.
Gasket— A device used to seal joints against leaks.
Gfi or gfci or Ground Fault Current Interrupter — A electrical device used to prevent injury in locations where one might be in contact with a grounded surface and an electrical appliance. Most gfis are located in a receptacle or circuit breaker and can be identified by the presence of a “test” and a “reset” button.
Glued laminated beam (glulam)— A structural beam composed of wood laminations. The laminations are pressure-bonded with adhesives.
Granules— Crushed rock coated with ceramic material, applied to the exposed surface of asphalt roofing products to add color and reduce ultraviolet degradation. Copper compounds added to these help make them algae resistant.
Groundwater— Water from a subsurface water source.
Grout— Mortar made of such consistency (by adding water) that it will flow into the joints and cavities of the masonry work and fill them solid.
Gusset— A flat metal, wood, plywood or similar type member used to provide a connection at the intersection of wood members. Most commonly used at joints of wood trusses. They are fastened by nails, screws, bolts, or adhesives.
Gutter— The trough that channels water from the eaves to the downspouts.
H-beam — A steel beam with a cross section resembling the letter H.
H-clip— Small metal clips formed like an H that fits at the joints of two plywood (or wafer board) sheets to stiffen the joint. Normally used on the roof sheeting.
Header— A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists are attached in framing for around an opening.
Hearth— The fireproof area directly in front of a fireplace. The inner or outer floor of a fireplace, usually made of brick, tile, or stone.
Heat pump— A device that uses compression and decompression of gas to heat and/or cool a building.
Heating load— The amount of heating required to keep a building at a specified temperature during the winter, based on an outside design temperature.
Hip— The external angle formed by the meeting of two sloping sides of a roof.
Honeycombs— The appearance concrete makes when aggregate in the concrete is visible and where there are void areas in the concrete.
Hose bib — An exterior water faucet.
Hot wire— The wire that carries electrical energy to a receptacle or other device-in contrast to a neutral, which carries electricity away again. Normally the black wire.
Hvac— An abbreviation for Heat, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.
I-beam— A steel beam with a cross section resembling the letter I.
Ice damming— The buildup of ice and water at the eaves of a sloped roof. Melting snow on the roof refreezes at the roof overhang, causing the damming. Buildings with inadequate attic insulation or ventilation or with large roof projections beyond the exterior walls are more pronto to ice damming.
Irrigation— Lawn sprinkler system.
Jack post— A type of structural support made of metal, which can be raised or lowered through a series of pins and a screw to meet the height required. Typically used as a replacement for an old supporting member in a building.
Joist— One of a series of parallel beams, usually two inches in thickness, used to support floor and ceiling loads, and supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or bearing walls.
Joist hanger — A metal U-shaped item used to support the end of a floor joist and attached with hardened nails to another bearing joist or beam.
Knob-and-tube wiring— A common form of electrical wiring used before the Second World War. When in good condition it may still be functional for low amperage use such as smaller light fixtures.
Lath— A building material of narrow wood, metal, gypsum, or insulating board that is fastened to the frame of a building to act as a base for plaster, shingles, or tiles.
Lattice— An open framework of crisscrossed wood or metal strips that form regular, patterned spaces.
Leader— See Downspout.
Ledger— The wood or metal members attached to a beam, studding, or wall used to support joist or rafter ends.
Lintel — A horizontal structural member that supports the load over an opening such as a door or window.
Load-bearing wall— A wall supporting its own weight and some other structural elements of the building such as the roof and floor structures.
Louvre — A vented opening into a room that has a series of horizontal slats and arranged to permit ventilation but to exclude rain, snow, light, insects, or other living creatures.
Mansard roof — A roof with two sloping planes of different pitch on each of its four sides. The lower plane is steeper than the upper, and may be almost vertical.
Masonry— Stone, brick, concrete, hollow-tile, concrete block, or other similar building units or materials. Normally bonded together with mortar to form a wall.
Modified bitumen roof — A roof covering that is typically composed of a factory-fabricated composite sheet consisting of a copolymer-modified bitumen, often reinforced with polyester and/or fiberglass, and installed in one or more plies. The membrane is commonly surfaced with field-applied coatings, factory-applied granules or metal foil. The roofing system may incorporate rigid insulation.
Mortise— A slot cut into a board, plank, or timber, usually edgewise, to receive the tenon (or tongue) of another board, plank, or timber to form a joint.
Mullion— A vertical divider in the frame between windows, doors, or other openings.
Neutral wire— Usually color-coded white, this wire carries electricity from a load back to the service panel.
Newel post— The large starting post to which the end of a stair guard railing or balustrade is fastened.
Nosing — The projecting edge of a molding or drip or the front edge of a stair tread.
On center — The measurement of spacing for studs, rafters, and joists in a building from the center of one member to the center of the next.
Open valley— Method of valley construction in which shingles on both sides of the valley are trimmed along a chalk line snapped on each side of the valley. Shingles do not extend across the valley. Valley flashing is exposed.
Open web steel joist — One of a series of parallel beams, used to support floor and roof loads, and supported in turn by larger beams, girders or bearing walls. Consists of horizontal top and bottom chords, with diagonal and/or vertical web members connecting the chords together.
Oriented Strand Board or osb— A manufactured 4-foot-by-8-foot wood panel made out of one- to two-inch wood chips and glue. Often used as a substitute for plywood.
P-trap— Curved, U-section of drain pipe that holds a water seal to prevent sewer gasses from entering a building through a fixtures’ drain pipe.
Parapet— The portion of an exterior wall that extends above the edge of a roof.
Parging— A thin layer of cement placed over masonry units.
Partition— A wall that subdivides spaces within any story of a building or room.
Paver— Materials (commonly masonry) laid down to make a firm, even surface on the exterior.
Performance bond— An amount of money (usually 10 percent of the total price of a job) that a contractor must put on deposit with a governmental agency as an insurance policy that guarantees the contractors’ proper and timely completion of a project or job.
Perimeter drain— Typically 4-inch perforated plastic pipe around the perimeter (either inside or outside) of a foundation wall (before backfill) that collects and diverts ground water away from the foundation.
Pilot light — A small, continuous flame (in a boiler, or furnace) that ignites gas or oil burners when needed.
Pitch— (1) The degree of roof incline expressed as the ratio of the rise, in feet, to the span, in feet. (2) A thick, oily substance commonly obtained from tar, used to seal out water at joints and seams. Pitch is produced from distilling coal tar, wood tar, or petroleum.
Pitch pocket— A container, usually formed of sheet metal, around supporting connections with roof-mounted equipment. Filling the container with pitch, or better yet, plastic roof cement, helps seal out water even when vibration is present. A pitch pocket is not the preferred method of flashing a roof penetration.
Plan view — Drawing of a structure with the view from overhead, looking down.
Plate— Normally a horizontal member within a framed structure, such as: (1) sill plate — a horizontal member anchored to a concrete or masonry wall; (2) Sole plate — bottom horizontal member of a frame wall; or (3) top plate — top horizontal member of a frame wall supporting ceiling joists, rafters, or other members.
Plenum— The main supply air or return air duct leading from a heating or cooling unit.
Plumbing stack— A plumbing vent pipe that penetrates the roof.
Ply— A term to denote the number of layers of roofing felt, veneer in plywood, or layers in built-up materials, in any finished piece of such material.
Point load— A point where a bearing/structural weight is concentrated and transferred to another structural member or component.
Portland cement — Cement made by heating clay and crushed limestone into a brick and then grinding to a pulverized powder state.
Post — a vertical framing member usually designed to carry a beam.
Post-and-beam— A basic building method that uses just a few hefty posts and beams to support an entire structure. Contrasts with stud framing.
Power vent— A vent that includes a fan to speed up air flow.
Pressure relief valve — A safety device mounted on a water heater or boiler. The relief valve is designed to release any high pressure in the vessel and thus prevent tank explosions.
Pressure-treated wood — Lumber that has been saturated with a preservative to resist rot.
Pvc or cpvc — (Polyvinyl choride) A type of white or light gray plastic pipe sometimes used for water supply lines and waste pipe.
Quarry tile— A man-made or machine-made clay tile used to finish a floor or wall. Generally 6 inches by 6 inches by ¼-inch thick .
R value — A measure of insulation’s resistance to heat flow. The higher the R value the more effective the insulation.
Rafter— (1) The framing member that directly supports the roof sheathing. A rafter usually follows the angle of the roof, and may be a part of a roof truss. (2) The supporting framing member immediately beneath the deck, sloping from the ridge to the wall plate.
Rafter, hip— A rafter that forms the intersection of an external roof angle.
Rafter, valley— A rafter that forms the intersection of an internal roof angle.
Rake edge— The overhang of an inclined roof plane beyond the vertical wall below it.
Rebar— Reinforcing bar. Ribbed steel bars installed in concrete structures designed to strengthen concrete. Comes in various thicknesses and strength grades. May be epoxy coated to enhance rust resistance.
Refrigerant — A substance that remains a gas at low temperatures and pressure and can be used to transfer heat. Freon is an example.
Register— A grille placed over a supply air or return air duct.
Reglaze— To replace a broken window.
Reinforcing— Steel rods or metal fabric placed in concrete slabs, beams, or columns to increase their strength.
Relief valve— A device designed to open if it detects excess temperature or pressure. Commonly found on water heating or steam producing systems.
Resilient flooring— A durable floor cover that has the ability to resume its original shape.
Retaining wall— A structure that holds back a slope or elevation of land and prevents erosion.
Ridge— The horizontal line at the junction of the top edges of two sloping roof surfaces.
Riser— A vertical member between two stair treads.
Roll roofing — Asphalt roofing products manufactured in roll form.
Romex— A name brand of nonmetallic sheathed electrical cable that is used for indoor wiring.
Roof deck— The surface, installed over the supporting framing members, to which the roofing is applied.
Roof sheathing— The wood panels or sheet material fastened to the roof rafters or trusses on which the shingle or other roof covering is laid.
Roof valley— The “V” created where two sloping roofs meet.
Roofing membrane— The layer or layers of waterproofing products that cover the roof deck.
Run, stair— The horizontal distance of a stair tread from the nosing to the riser.
Saddle— Two sloping surfaces meeting in a horizontal ridge, used between the back side of a chimney, or other vertical surface, and a sloping roof. Used to divert water around the chimney or vertical surface.
Sanitary sewer — A sewer system designed for the collection of waste water from the bathroom, kitchen and laundry drains, and is usually not designed to handle storm water.
Sash— The frame that holds the glass in a window, often the movable part of the window.
Saturated felt — A felt that is impregnated with tar or asphalt.
Scratch coat— The first coat of plaster, which is scratched to form a bond for a second coat.
Scupper — (1) An opening for drainage in a wall, curb or parapet. (2) The drain above a downspout or in a flat roof, usually connected to the downspout.
Sealer — A finishing material, either clear or pigmented, that is usually applied directly over raw wood or concrete for the purpose of sealing the wood or concrete surface.
Seasoning— Drying and removing moisture from green wood in order to improve its usability.
Service equipment— Main control gear at the electrical service entrance, such as circuit breakers, switches, and fuses.
Service lateral — Underground power supply line.
Shake— A wood roofing material, normally cedar or redwood. Produced by splitting a block of the wood along the grain line. Modern shakes are sometimes machine sawn on one side.
Sheathing — (1) Sheets or panels used as roof deck material. (2) Panels that lie between the studs and the siding of a structure.
Short circuit— A situation that occurs when hot and neutral wires come in contact with each other. Fuses and circuit breakers protect against fire that could result from a short.
Sill — (1) The two-by-four or two-by-six wood plate framing member that lays flat against and bolted to the foundation wall (with anchor bolts) and upon which the floor joists are installed. (2) The member forming the lower side of an opening, as a door sill or window sill.
Skylight — A more or less horizontal window located on the roof of a building.
Slab-on-grade — A type of foundation with a concrete floor which is placed directly on the soil. In warm climates, the edge of the slab is usually thicker and acts as the footing for the walls. In cold climates, the slab is independent of the perimeter foundation walls.
Sleeper — Usually, a wood member that serves to support equipment.
Soffit — (1)The finished underside of the eaves. (2) A small ceiling-like space, often out of doors, such as the underside of a roof overhang.
Solid waste pump — A pump used to ‘lift’ waste water to a gravity sanitary sewer line. Usually used in basements and other locations which are situated below the level of the city sewer.
Spalling— The cracking and breaking away of the surface of a material.
Span— The clear distance that a framing member carries a load without support (between structural supports).
Splash block — A pad placed under the lower end of a downspout to divert the water from the downspout away from the building. Usually made out of concrete or fiberglass.
Stair stringer — Supporting member for stair treads. Can be a notched plank or a steel member.
Starter strip— Asphalt roofing applied at the eaves that provides protection by filling in the spaces under the cutouts and joints of the first course of shingles.
Step flashing — Flashing application method used where a vertical surface meets a sloping roof plane.
Storey — That part of a building between any floor or between the floor and roof.
Storm collar — A metal flashing used to seal around a penetration in a roof.
Storm sewer — A sewer system designed to collect storm water, separate from the waste water system.
Storm window— An extra window usually placed outside of an existing one, as additional protection against cold weather, or damage.
Stucco — An outside plaster finish made with Portland cement as its base.
Stud— One of a series of slender wood or metal vertical structural members placed as supporting elements in walls and partitions.
Stud framing — A building method that distributes structural loads to each of a series of relatively lightweight studs. Contrasts with post-and-beam.
Sump — Pit or large plastic bucket/barrel inside a basement, designed to collect ground water (storm water) from a perimeter drain system.
Sump pump — A submersible pump in a sump pit that pumps any excess ground water to the storm sewer.
Suspended ceiling— A ceiling system supported by hanging it from the overhead structural framing.
Tempered— Strengthened. Tempered glass will not shatter nor create shards, but will “pelletize” like an automobile window. Required in tub and shower enclosures, for example.
Termites— Insects that superficially resemble ants in size, general appearance, and habit of living in colonies; hence, they are frequently called “white ants.” Subterranean termites establish themselves in buildings not by being carried in with lumber, but by entering from ground nests after the building has been constructed. If unmolested, they eat out the woodwork, leaving a shell of sound wood to conceal their activities, and damage may proceed so far as to cause collapse of parts of a structure before discovery.
Terra cotta— A ceramic material molded into masonry units.
Threshold — The bottom metal, concrete, or wood plate of an exterior door frame. They may be adjustable to keep a tight fit with the door slab.
Toenailing— To drive a nail in at a slant. Method used to secure floor joists to the plate. Not acceptable for securing joists flush to a header or beam.
Tongue-and-groove— A joint made by a tongue (a rib on one edge of a board) that fits into a corresponding groove in the edge of another board to make a tight flush joint. Typically, the subfloor plywood is tongue-and-groove.
Top chord— The upper or top member of a truss.
Trap — A plumbing fitting that holds water to prevent air, gas, and vermin from entering into a building.
Tread— The walking surface board in a stairway on which the foot is placed.
Treated lumber — A wood product which has been impregnated with chemicals to reduce damage from wood rot or insects. Often used for the portions of a structure which is likely to be in ongoing contact with soil and water. Wood may also be treated with a fire retardant.
Truss— An engineered and manufactured roof support member with “zig-zag” framing members. Does the same job as a rafter but is designed to have a longer span than a rafter
Tube-and-knob wiring — See knob-and-tube wiring.
Uffi — Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation, a foam insulation blown into existing walls. (Pronounced “you-fee”)
Ultraviolet degradation— A reduction in certain performance limits caused by exposure to ultraviolet light.
Underlayment — (1) A one-quarter-inch material placed over the subfloor plywood sheathing and under finish coverings, such as vinyl flooring, to provide a smooth, even surface. (2) A secondary roofing layer that is waterproof or water-resistant, installed on the roof deck and beneath shingles or other roof-finishing layer.
Uv rays— Ultraviolet rays from the sun.
Valley— The inward angle formed by two intersecting, sloping roof planes. Since it naturally becomes a water channel, additional attention to waterproofing it is desirable.
Vapor barrier — A building product installed on exterior walls and ceilings under the drywall and on the warm side of the insulation. It is used to retard the movement of water vapor into walls and prevent condensation within them. Normally, polyethylene plastic sheeting is used.
Vent — A pipe or duct allowing the flow of air and gases to the outside. In a plumbing system, the vent is necessary to allow sewer gases to escape to the exterior
Vermiculite— A mineral closely related to mica, with the faculty of expanding on heating to form lightweight material with insulation quality. Used as bulk insulation and also as aggregate in insulating and acoustical plaster and in insulating concrete floors. Some had an asbestos content.
Water closet— A toilet.
Weather stripping — Narrow sections of thin metal or other material installed to prevent the infiltration of air and moisture around windows and doors.
Weep holes — Small holes in exterior wall cladding systems that allow moisture to escape and air pressure equalization in the cavity space drained by the weep hole.
Wythe— (rhymes with “tithe” or “scythe”) A vertical layer of masonry that is one masonry unit thick.
Zone— The section of a building that is served by one heating or cooling loop because it has noticeably distinct heating or cooling needs. Also, the section of property that will be watered from a lawn sprinkler system.
Zone valve — A device, usually placed near the heater or cooler, which controls the flow of water or steam to parts of the building; it is controlled by a zone thermostat
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN A HOME INSPECTION REPORT?
A Home Inspection Report Template (March 16 2012) Home inspections have been around for a few decades now and reaching the 80 percentile application level especially with people entering the property ladder especially in the Kitchener/Cambridge area of South Western Ontario where home buyers are especially savvy, but are still not well understood by many homebuyers and homeowners. That's partly the fault of the profession. Home inspections styles are diverse and inspectors have differing levels of education and competancy and although there is some standardization mostly driven by Associations, there are lots of different approaches to both the inspection process and the inspection report.
Purpose of a report
Most home inspectors provide a written report after the inspection is completed. The majority of Professional Home Inspection Associations require that the inspector do this. The reason is simple; most homebuyers could not remember all of the information that a home inspector discovers and shares during the inspection. There is a trend towards electronic report writing and delivery but this causes a delay in the event cycle in our opinion and most clients are looking to gather data as soon as possible to use as a basis for use in the evaluation/selection process.
The purpose of the report is to help a prospective buyer make an informed decision about the house they are interested in. A good report will document the current condition, and identify any impending repairs. Most home inspection reports also include a description of the house components, which can be useful in making decisions about home improvements.
We think a good home inspection report should help you set priorities for the various home improvements recommended. Some home improvements are discretionary and can be done at any time. Upgrading the amount of insulation in the attic would be an example, whereas other improvements may be more urgent. Replacing a worn out roof should be done soon. Safety issues, including damaged or exposed electrical wiring are also high priority. A good inspection report should identify these priorities for you.
The implications of problems are not always clear to homeowners. Good reports explain what the problem means. For example, when an inspector indicates that an electrical receptacle has reversed polarity, or a furnace has a cracked heat exchanger,most homeowners would not understand what that means. Therefore, a good report should explain the implications to the homebuyer.
Home inspection is a technical process. However, we believe the inspection report should be written in terms that a typical homeowner can understand. Technical jargon may make the home inspectors feel clever, but confuses many homeowners.
While simple language is good, it’s not enough. We surveyed our clients and most told us they did not want to read long paragraphs or narrative reports. They found it hard to stay oriented and separate the general description items from serious problem descriptions, which are often intermingled with sentences that limit the scope of the inspection and protect the inspector.
Good reports are clear, simple, well organized and a combination of checklist and narrative where needed to expand upon issues. We believe that the reader should be kept oriented with headings so they always know the topic and the context. Reading a home inspection report should not be a challenging intellectual exercise.
Reports should be free of filler; material inserted to sound authoritative or that does not apply to the house being inspected that does not actually help the client. With modern technology, it is too easy to add generic, but only marginally relevant, information to create the illusion of value. In our experience, clients want lots of information, but only what is relevant.
We have found that our clients actually have three different needs at different stages of homeownership. As a result, we believe home inspections should be written in three layers. Let us explain.
The big picture before you buy
When you have not yet decided on the home that you are looking at, you want to see the big picture. You are trying to make a ‘buy or don't buy’ decision. You need to understand how the house stacks up against its peers, and what challenges you will face when you move in.
An executive summary of the significant issues in the home is useful at this stage. A good summary is short and sweet, addressing only the significant items. Things like a cracked pane of glass, a sticking door or a cracked electrical switch plate, would not change most people's minds about buying a house that is otherwise right for them. On the other hand, replacing the roof, upgrading the plumbing or electrical system, or even rebuilding a failing foundation, may affect someone’s buying decision Once you move in
After you move into the home, your needs are a little different. The report includes not only the major issues, but also several less important issues. For example, the report may say you should repair the mortar in the chimney and repair the leaking downspout.
The body of the report should set out all of these issues clearly, with relative priorities.
A third level
Sometimes you need more detail. For example, your home inspection report may recommend a repair to the valley flashings, but you don't know what a valley flashing is. A good report will include reference material to help you understand all the components of your house. A combination of text and illustrations is a great way to get the information you need, in the depth you need, when you need it.Therefore, the three levels of a report are
the executive summary,
the body, and
the reference material.
Home inspection reports often tell you all the things that are wrong with your house, and give you some direction as to what you should do with them. But lots of reports fall short by not giving you some indication as to the cost that you may incur to correct these issues.
You may be in a negotiation process and do not have time to research costs. Further, because the house is not yours, it is difficult to get contractors in to give you quotes on home improvements, even if you do have competent, reliable contractors standing in the wings.
We believe a home inspection report should include ballpark costs because if a report says you need to replace the roof, you may not know if this will cost $1,000 or $20,000. Without costs, reports may create more questions than answers.
In our opinion, an order of magnitude for these costs is important, so you can make an informed decision.
Lots of home inspection reports include photographs of the home. These can provide reinforcement and clarity to conditions identified in the report. They also provide a visual break for the reader in the report. We consider photos to be optional, because if they are overused or used indiscriminately, they can distract the reader and clutter the report.
The home inspection report can be intimidating, and if poorly written, may scare people away from a perfectly good home. A good report should lend perspective to the issues. For example, if you are looking at a home in a 15-year-old neighborhood, most of the roofs will be close to the end of their life. This is not a defect in the home that you are looking at, but it is a fact of life. Roof coverings are disposable components and they last between 14 and 18 years, typically.
If written well, inspection reports should help the prospective buyer compare homes of a similar age and type. This allows buyers to make an educated decision.
In closing, we believe a good quality home inspection report should;
be quick and easy to read with lots of headings,
include implications for defects
be written in layers
provide perspective for homebuyers
Contact AH & P for a FREE Professional/Residential home inspection checklist of areas to be aware of when doing your own inspection or preparing for the visit of that Home Inspector being hired to evaluate your home. If you have preferred resource to assist in your selection process then at least assure yourself that that person is an active member of one of our association and that the inspection will be 3 - 5 hours in duration dependant upon size and age of home but also influenced by issues that may be encountered.
Good Luck in YOUR home hunting
Product Recall - Tankless Water Heaters: (Mar 7 2012) The Technical Standards & Safety Authority issued an advisory regarding Navien instantaneous hot water heaters. It states that the joints for the entire venting system of all Navien water heaters manufactured between February 29, 2008 and December 31, 2008 must be re-inspected to ensure they are properly fused, to prevent any potential flue products from being expelled into the living space of a home. The lack of fusing between joints has been attributed to an inadequate application of cement. Navien has requested installers to inspect any Navien water heaters manufactured through the end of December 2008 to ensure all collar and exhaust sections are fused appropriately. The company has stated that application of ULC S636 compliant cement - in accordance with the cement manufacturer's instructions - will be required for collar and exhaust sections improperly fused. Navien stated it has tested and approved the use of IPEX System 636 and Royal Group GVS-65 cements for fusing Navien water heater collars to PVC venting pipes. Navien have also requested service contractors and installers report the number of inspections and remediations undertaken for a water heater back to the distributor where it was purchased. The manufacturing year is located in letters five through eight of the 16-digit serial number (Example: XXXX2008XXXXXXXX).
Preparing for a Home Inspection On YOUR Home: (Feb 23 2012) If you have an upcoming home inspection and don't know what to expect contact me and I will share a checklist that will let you see what the home inspector will be looking for. Following are a few tips for you as you prepare for for that upcoming inspection:
You don't have to clean particularly but remove the clutter that may obstruct the inspectors view or the china that he may be concerned about breaking. Issues most often found on Home Inspections Shingles worn out, Elec outlets badly wired (get a plug in tester for about $10 from Can Tire) Joist hanger nails missing (Note: They should ALL be the same type of nails), junction boxes no cover, Grading pushing water to foundation, gas appliances not serviced, smoke detector not working make it easy to access attic hatch get out receipts for repairs completed
Inspect Before You Renovate: (Feb 17 2012) A professional building inspection by a qualified engineer can help you separate the NEEDS from the WANTS.
The time has finally come. Your cramped kitchen and dining room is making way for the state-of-the-art dining and entertaining center. But first that wall has to come out. Is it load bearing? What about the electrical service – can it handle the SubZero fridge?
The best person to answer these questions is your friendly neighborhood building inspection engineer. While it may seem like an odd call to make, hiring an inspector to check out the house systems before you start ripping things apart makes sense when you stop to think about it.
One unpleasant aspect of home renovations is that doing what you want almost always leads to doing things you weren’t planning. Sometimes it’s because hidden problems are found when the work progresses. Often it is because it makes sense to do one thing while you are in the middle of doing another.
Your building inspection engineer is trained to treat the whole house as a livingsystem. He or she is uniquely qualified to understand the impact doing work on one part of the house will have on the others. The engineer can also help you sort out what additional work should be done, and what would be okay to avoid or defer.
Mechanical Systems You may have to decide that the electrical service, heating system, or plumbing should be upgraded to support the new work. The inspector can guide you.
Structure Changes to interior walls may compromise structural support. An inspector can help you determine if a wall is load bearing, and how you may work around it.
Roof Adding onto a house or simply providing a dormer or skylight will require roof work. Should you replace all the existing materials, or is it safe to tie in the new work with the old? The inspector can illuminate your options.
Basement Finishing a basement in an old house can be the beginning of an experiment in mould growth. A professional inspector can advise you on how to reduce or eliminate dampness, often with easy to implement and low cost suggestions. He can also prescribe how to install basement finishes to minimize the risk of water damage and mould growth.
Pre-Purchase The renovation consultation is a different service than a pre-purchase inspection.The inspection before you buy determines the big picture of the house condition, focusing on the major systems like roof, furnace, plumbing and wiring. It’s a must in the purchase of any house, new or old.
The pre-renovation consultation has a scope that is defined more by the homeowner, the work planned, and the details of the house. It is a less rigid inspection, and requires an experienced inspector. By taking stock of the house before you get started, you will be able to plan your work better. This will mean fewer unexpected repairs as the job proceeds. And you have the chance of making improvements to corollary systems as you go, increasing the efficiency of your upgrades. Whether you are establishing your roost in a previously enjoyed house, or you are upgrading the family estate, a pre-renovation consultation with a professional inspection engineer can smooth the transition.
EcoENERGY Retrofit Programme: (Feb 10th 2012) On January 29, National Resource Minister Joe Oliver announced that registrations for the ecoENERGY retrofit for homes program had closed due to a 250,000 participant limit. This solidifies suspicion that the ecoENERGY Retrofit program will not be renewed again. If you already have a Natural Resources Canada registration number, you can still add these quick jobs to your list to get the most possible out of the final 40 days of the ecoENERGY retrofit program.
If you already have your approval and number, the structure of the ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program is set around the following key dates, which changed in the announcement on January 29:
March 31, 2012: All work must be completed.
June 30, 2012: The post-renovation evaluation must be completed.
If you already have your number, this change in dates actually extends the time you have to get the last bit of work completed in your home because only the work has to be completed by March 31, and the inspection can be done later. This means there is still time for you to add a few ecoENERGY rebate-qualified updates to your home. Click here to see the revised wording on the Natural Resources Canada website. This is likely your last chance to make the most out of tax savings to retrofit your home, so make sure you don’t miss out.
Before deciding to make some additions to your planned retrofit renovations, there are two key components to the process you should consider.
How much of the renovation cost will be covered by the retrofit? Take into consideration the cost of the materials, labour and potential savings.
How long will this renovation or addition to your plan take? Consider what type of preparation you can do yourself, and what guarantees you can obtain from the contractor doing the work.
Although there are quite a few major projects that you probably don’t have time for, the ones listed below can be completed within your timeline have the potential to make a noticeable difference in your home and have a strong upfront cost to ecoENERGY rebate ratio.
Upgrade to low-flush toilets
This is one of the simplest changes to make and if you are looking for a really strong upfront cost to rebate ratio you should do a little digging and watch for a sale. It is entirely possible for the cost of these toilets to be the same as the rebate.
Time to complete: One to two weeks (including time to book)
Potential rebate: $65 per toilet (max. of four per household)
Upgrade to a tankless water heater
An inefficient water heater can waste a tremendous amount of energy. The rebate for the qualified upgrade should be factored in with future savings to calculate the overall value of this option. Best of all, the installation of a rental water heater will still qualify for this rebate.
Time to complete: One to two weeks (including time to book)
Potential rebate: $375
Increase the air sealing of your home
This is one you may be able to take care of yourself with some research and a little bit of time. Although the rebates for this one are not as large as others, you will see on the ecoENERGY program list that the potential for heating cost savings is tremendous. For more information on doing this one yourself, have a look at the ENERGY STAR website http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=diy.diy_index
Time to complete: Allow 3-4 days for DIY jobs, and 1-2 days for a pro.
Potential rebate: $245 when your result is 20% better than your target.
Upgrade your furnace and air conditioner system (HVAC)
This is one of the largest jobs on the list but it also comes with quite a few options. Because the requirements of the ecoENERGY program are based on installation, financing and rental options can qualify for the rebates (but be sure to confirm your options with your provider).
Time to complete: One week (based on Reliance’s average install time)
Potential rebate: $1040 (not including OPA rebates, which qualify as well)
For more information on all of the ecoENERGY rebate options and answers to the most common frequently asked questions, visit the Natural Resources Canada website or click on the following link: http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/residential/personal/retrofit/4171
Spray Foam Insulation (Feb 2nd 2012) If you are in the market for upgrading your insulation then the fashionable alternative and Hi efficiency recommendation is sprayed on Foam Insulation. If you are making the commitment become informed before you do about the process, options available and costs. Many contractors are seeing this as a new cash cow to add to their business or starting new businesses without being fully trained and aware.
Ill informed contractors are jumping on the bandwagon and incorrectly applying this very efficient and useful component without properly controlling the process and /or not effectively ventilating the workspace. This can lead to toxic gases being left to offgas from the insulation over time as it cures and can be identified as a "Fishy" aroma, so be careful in the selection of the contractor for your job and dont become 1 of the 1% that may have to go so far as to need removal of the insulation to make your space rehabitable
Hole in the Ground: Basement or Swimming Pool? (Nov 29th 2011) The moral of the story is do you want moisture to enter into your basement through the cracks and create a swimming pool... of course not.
Every basement will have cracks.... eventually. Some small and inconsequential, some severe and more alarming each day.
The issue is whether water will be allowed to enter. As a home owner its your responsibility to reduce the possibilities by keeping water from sitting against the foundation walls; first by extending the downspout discharge 6ft away from the walls; then ensuring that the grading/landscaping keeps it moving and out to the storm drains. Finally don't create oversized flower beds against the walls that hold moisture and need watering regularly.
Tarion warranty will not repair cracks less than 8 mm wide especially if they are not allowing water to flow through so then you are on your own unless you have a responsible builder.
The most economic option for crack repair is resin injection from the inside of the foundation wall at approx $700 per crack. If the basement is finished and you notice the crack before major issues are created then the best option is to excavate the outside and seal with a membrane at approx $1500 per running meter.
Make sure that if you have a sump pump installed that it works properly and the plumbing directs the outflow away from the foundation or the water may just cycle around and around the weeping tile and then come back to the sump pump again.
For sure not everyone apprieciates the option of an indoor swimming pool, especially when it wasn't listed on the options for the home in the MLS
OLDER RENTAL PROPERTIES: (October 11th 2011) The link below is to a recent ESA notice about exposed electrical panel connections in Pre 1940 residences that are primarily rental properties. If you have or are aware of panels with exposed fuses then a sign must be attached that only AUTHORISED people can open and change the fuses as this can be a dangerous situation with exposed wiring
SEPTIC SYSTEMS: (June 4th 2011) Evaluate the plumbing components inside the home: I inspect all of the interior plumbing fixtures for proper connections. I also make sure all the waste lines are properly discharging into an approved waste system. Water treatment systems can be harmful to septic systems and I evaluate where the discharge of these systems go.
Examine the inside of the treatment tank: I open the tank and examine the inlet and outlet baffles and determine the volume of the treatment tank. I inspect the visible parts of the tank for cracks, water or root infiltration, corrosion, and leakage. I also take a sample from inside the tank with a sludge sampler. Similar to what is used in waste water treatment facilities. By examining the sample I can determine the amount of sludge, liquid level and scum layer. This allows me to understand whether the tank is healthy and if it needs pumping.
Distribution Box: I inspect the distribution box for corrosion, leakage and cracks. I also make sure the D-Box is level to ensure equal flow to each pipe in the leaching field.
EDA, ( Effluent Disposal Area ) or Leaching Field. I will determine the location and size of the EDA. Test hole's are hand dug in different locations throughout the EDA. This allows me to examine the condition of the EDA as well as how much saturation is present. A full evaluation of the EDA is critical in determining the overall condition of the septic system.
Vacant homes: Septic inspections can still be performed on vacant homes. Sometimes a hydraulic load test will be done by running approximately 150-200 gallons of water into the system. Septic dye may also be used to determine flow.
Reports: My AH & P septic system narative report is comprehensive and easy to read. I include digital photographs for a better understanding of the system, components and condition.
Update: (Feb 15 2012)
Removable/ Cleanable filter on outlet of tank - Required after 2008 for all new installations. Clean every 6 - 12 months or as required
Dual compartments on tanks and PVC piping - Required after 1978
Life of Steel tanks 15 - 20 years
Check for corrosion of Concrete tanks especially on exit areas
When originally designing your system OVERSIZE the tank as home modifications over the future life of the home may overload a marginal system
Maintain 16 feet to tree line from all components
Permits ARE required for ALL modifications to system
Life of well Maintained and Designed system - 30 / 40 years
Do NOT over use Liquid fabric softeners
Sodium Fluorocene is the dye used when testing the discharge area of the weeping bed and may take many days up to multiple weeks to show results
JOIST HANGERS: (May 22nd 2011) Joist Hangers are an important part of modern building construction but they must be installed correctly. Sadly often they are not and they should be caught at an initial Pre Delivery Inspection of a new home but are not. Firstly each different size of joist has its own size of hanger no modifications are allowed, each hanger comes with specific nails that MUST be used many have identification markings on the head so they can be seen after installation screws should not be substituted even on decks, also every hole provided in the hanger should have a nail inserted for maximum strength.
ALUMINUM WIRING: (May 10th 2011) Aluminum wiring became a popular alternative for use in homes when the price of copper spiked in the 1960s. Many homes today still have aluminum wiring that is functioning properly. Insurance companies may be uncomfortable with it and you should contact yours for their policies. Like many other systems in the home, the key to proper operation is proper installation and maintenance.
When home owners make changes to aluminum wiring and their outlets they often create problems. Unlike copper which is more forgiving with its connections, aluminum wiring requires more considerations to avoid problems from occurring and there are fixtures and components that are specifically designed for use on Aluminum wired systems. Here are the main issues:
- Aluminum oxidation When aluminum is exposed to air it undergoes a chemical process called oxidation. Unlike aluminum which is a conductor, aluminum oxide is an electrical insulator which impede the flow of electricity through the oxide layer. To avoid oxidation from occurring, all terminals must be covered with a gray oxidation inhibitor paste.
- Expansion and contraction Aluminum experiences more expansion and contraction with temperature changes compared to copper. Therefore it’s important to provide enough cable length and ensure that connections haven’t loosened.
- Joining aluminum to copper Aluminum and copper are dissimilar metals and when in direct contact may undergo galvanic corrosion. To prevent corrosion from occurring, special CO/ALR connectors and outlets must be used.
It is possible to have an aluminum wired home that is safe for use. But make sure you have a licensed electrician confirm its proper installation.
SMOKE DETECTORS: (Apr 23rd 2011) Smoke detectors are a mandatory item and life saving tool in homes today but Carbon Monoxide detectors are an equally but sometimes ignored important safety addition in todays modern home that have a source of combustion used in the heating or cooking processes ( natural gas, propane or wood ) An unknown issue is the life of these types of safety tool other than the well publicised need to change batteries on some styles annually. The internal monitoring cell can become unreliable or fail completely without indication after approx 12 years (Carbon Monoxide detectors 5 year life) so continued testing of this device should be part of awareness in the home.
WETT INSPECTIONS: (Apr 2nd 2011) If you have a wood burning fireplace or stove in your home it is recommended to have it inspected and cleaned annually (by a W.E.T.T. certified professional – visit http://www.wettinc.ca/).
It may sound logical that the best time to clean the chimney is before the heating season begins. In reality, it is important to clean the chimney before it gets too hot outside and humidity levels increase.
A Level 1 inspection reports on visible issues and installation errors, a Level 2 inspection requires some disassembly and demands a chimney be swept before the inspection.
When wood is burned, it deposits soot and creosote on the inside of the chimney. When moisture in the air mixes with the soot and creosote it forms sulfuric and hydrochloric acid which will damage the inside of your chimney liner. While the sweeping is taking place, ask to have it inspected for any damage and to ensure that a chimney cap is placed to prevent rain, snow, and unwelcome visitors from entering the chimney flue
ASBESTOS: (Mar 13th 2011) Materials containing in excess of 0.5% of asbestos are defined as being Asbestos Containing materials and are a health hazard that can only become evident 20 - 40 years after exposure. In homes constructed after 1945 and up to 1975 there are many items in a home that could contain asbestos to this level. ranging from the well recognised Vermiculite insulation to cladding of heating pipes and ducts, others less recognised are floor and ceiling tiles, caulking/jointing materials , electrical insulation, roofing felt and carpet glue. As long as the materials are not "Friable" and therefore do not become airborne and able to be inhaled they are not an immediate concern but if being removed from a home the task should be completed under controlled procedures including wetting down, controlled disposal and use of breathing protection.
If in doubt about materials in your home always default to safety first and obtain 3 samples of material which can be analysed for the content. At Home & Play can assist in this procedure.
You may believe that your "home is your castle" and that whatever you are doing within its confines are your responsibility BUT if you are using outside assistance, even if it is voluntary help from friends and family, you then become an employer and ALL the regulations of the MINISTRY of LABOUR BECOME APPLICABLE TO YOUR WORKSITE, from Personal Protective Equipment to Tie Offs for elevated workspaces.
BEDBUGS: (Mar 1st 2011) As people involved in the real estate transaction we all are exposed to this recently spiralling growth and exposure to this delicate issue. Although there is no health issue associated to an infestation of this pest there is a major stigma in finding these parasites. Recent studies indicate an increase in North America of 2010 cases, 3X more than in 2009 and expect to be 10X by 2015. Here follows some suggestions and some indicators to be aware of:
MAJOR FLAG: Legs of beds sitting in dishes of some description with mineral oil or vaseline as a "moat" around the legs. Meant to isolate the bed and catch any insects travelling through the dish. If searching for for signs look closely in creases in the bed piping or tight spaces on the bed base for brown apple seed sized indications. Eggs are even smaller and white/transparent. If trying to investigate very large areas (multi dwelling locations) then specially trained dogs can be very succesfully used.
Bites on a persons are usually in a line approx in line with the "tide line"of the sheets on your bed, lines of dark stains on the sheets or mattress similar marks from a "Sharpy Pen" are indications of bed bug faeces. If bites are not in lines or are only below your knees these maynot be Bedbug indications.
The majority of "nests" are specifically in bedroom areas although other regions of limited movement and warm environments are becoming likely venues for them to make into a home, IE: Theatres and Offices public and private. Generally they are a nocturnal insect and only need to venture out for approx 10 minutes each week to gain food so the likelyhood of us encountering them and transferring them to our own homes, unless we are hunting them is extreamly low. On a personal note frequenting used clothing and furniture stores increases your possible exposure and when buying soft furniture or specifically bedding and the vendor offers the free removal of old bedding this exposes your new purchase to the old bedding being picked up: as they are stored adjacent to the new items in the transport truck so likely not such a good idea.
The best ways to remove an infestation is by application of heat, either steaming of the furnishings and placing the clothing in a clothes dryer for approx 5 mins on full heat, or fullout heat sterilisation of the rooms (attaining 145 F for 3 hours) concerned in the home at a cost of $700 - $2000. Trying to purge by placing items outside in cold weather may not be very successful as the bugs can survive for serval days to weeks at -10 C.
DRYER VENT: (Jan 5th 2011) I was recently in a home that had experienced a fire in the Clothes Dryer. Lint accumulation can be a serious contributor to the potential for fires in homes. A lint trap can ease the process of collecting and disposing of accumulating lint. A direct route with limited elbows and not using corrugated ducts will also reduce the chance for lint to be caught inside the duct.
Check the external louvres on the discharge point, indications of lint here are an indicator that maintenance has been ignored.
If during your inspection you find corrugated plastic hosing then I would suggest replacement of this component as it will be the weak point in your system should any heat buildup occur.
TEMPERATURE and PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE; (Dec 10th 2010) Your water heater is a potential bomb in your basement that could level your home and possibly your neighbours also. The Temperature and Pressure Relief valve on the side of your water heater (whatever the fuel source) should be checked annually for correct operation and replaced if not functioning . Replaced every 3 years as a safety precaution.
First check that the valve has a discharge tube attached that points towards the floor and gets within 6 inches of the floor. do not stand with your foot under the discharge tube.
Gently pull on the lever to allow a small amount of steam and/or water to escape onto the floor. Release the lever when approx a cup full of moisture escapes. It may continue to drip. If after approx 15 mins it is still leaking onto the floor then call a plumber/ rental company to arrange replacement (approx cost of valve $25, free for rental appliances)
If nothing escapes when you pull on the lever, THIS IS AN EXTREME SAFETY CONCERN. Turn off the power source and call plumber/ rental company as the valve is not functioning at all.
For further advice / assistance contact me or another competent plumber/ home inspector.
SKYLIGHTS : (Nov 25th 2010) Energy savings can be one reason why people consider adding skylights to homes or are attracted to homes with them already installed. Along with additional light provided they can give energy savings up to 15% when coupled with efficient windows and doors and improved ventilation. They are a significant risk of moisture entry and leaks however and are a starting point for inspection of attics and roofs especially if they pre date 1995.
My humble opinion: Skylights are the same as basements there are 2 types, those that are leaking and those that will at some point in the future.
Solar panels can provide electrical savings or simpler systems can be water heating systems and are receiving more general acceptance across Canada and can result in savings of 50 - 80% of water heating costs for installation investments from $6 - 12k
Tax rebates are still available for the installation of approved units
UREA FORMALDEHIDE : (November 7th 2010) Should you be concerned that there is a possibility that there is UFFI insulation installed in a home that you are considering then a certificate should be available if the material was removed by a certified contractor. Another option is to sample the air quality this will not confirm absolutely that there is none of this insulation existing as over time it degasses but confirms its lack of airborne contaminants.
ELECTRICAL FAULTS: (November 1st 2010) Ontario’s Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) warns the public that 33% of residential fires reported by the office of the Ontario Fire Marshal are associated with electrical wiring and equipment.This includes: electrical circuit wiring, damaged or improperly rated extension cords or cables,breaker/fuse panels, light fixtures (luminaires), receptacles and switches. Fires are prevalent in both copper and aluminum wiring systems. Investigations of these electrical fires identified that 34% are attributed to incorrect or improper installation and/or procedure.
Through recent research conducted with Ontario homeowners, ESA identified that 47% of residents living in homes 15 to 50 years old have modified or replaced electrical wiring and electrical equipment. This increased to 84% for homes greater than 50 years old.
Electrical wiring is complicated and presents safety hazards if not properly installed and maintained. Homeowners are encouraged to ensure their electrical installations meet the safety standards defined in the Ontario Electrical Safety Code by engaging a licensed electrical contractor to evaluate their electrical system if they have signs of potential electrical hazards, such as: circuit breakers that frequently trip or fuses that frequently blow, lights that flicker, and signs of wiring deterioration; or if they have concerns about the qualifications of individuals who previously worked on their electrical system.
In response to concerns about unqualified individuals doing electrical work, Ontario regulation was introduced in January 2007 requiring any person operating an electrical contracting business to be licensed by the Electrical Safety Authority. Homeowners should retain the services of a licensed electrical contractor to ensure their electrical installations are done correctly and safely. In addition, when homeowners have new electrical installations installed, they should confirm with their licensed electrical contractor that an application for inspection was filed with the Electrical Safety Authority for any electrical work done on their premises, and ask for a copy of the Certificate of Inspection – their record that the installation meets Ontario’s safety standards.
When planning to do electrical work, think about the risks associated with unsafe electrical installations. Contact a licensed electrical contractor, and make sure they arrange for an electrical permit.
www.pluginsafely.ca for a list of licensed electrical contractors in Ontario
PRODUCT RECALL; (March 2010) There has been a posting by the CSA that Liquidation World has been selling a stand alone gas fireplace that although it is very attractive it is the type that has no venting system..... NOT approved by CSA. Should be discontinued from use and returned to Liquidation World
Contact me for more information
Ornate design, white in colour
HEATING - BOILERS: (October 16th 2010) TSSA Mandated Inspection; Water Boilers that are fueled by Propane and Natural Gas, are naturally draughted and are less than 300,000 Btu in size (this would be most that would be installed in residential homes) have a mandatory inspection required for Carbon Monoxide emissions and unless they have less than 100 ppm then they must be shut down until they can be serviced/repaired. This inappropriate operation can be caused by lack of maintenance or by inferior installation.
This inspection must be carried out annually and a record of the sucessful inspection should be posted adjacent to the boiler.
ROOFING: (Oct 1st 2010) Although many authorities advise that multiple layers of asphalt shingles can be acceptable there are definate reductions in longevity resulting, up to 50% of life can be lost by each subsequent thickness of shingles applied over another. This also reduces the possibilties of inspection / replacement of flashings and sheathing when not removing the worn out shingles. Did you know also that when sheathing has to be replaced a building permit is required as this is a significant part of the buildings structure.
Warranties for shingle materials are for the large part worthless and not claimable and if claimable may only support replacement materials so therefore the specifically "failed" components only would be offered as replacement. However 50% of failed shingles can be attributed to inferior installation workmanship and design issues can be picked out as concerns on many others. Weaved covering of valleys can give reductions of life of approx 5 years so metal valleys will ensure maximised life and effective return for investment.
SEPTIC SYSTEMS: (Sept 27th 2010)Septic system regulation changes have arrived
For the first time ever regulations on a home that are retroactive not just for new homes, these driven by environmental concerns from the Walkerton enquiry. If you have or are looking at a home that has a septic system installed them inspections to confirm appropriate operation are coming and then will be every 5 years thereafter assuming enough inspectors can be trained.
Local water authorities/municipalities will have the authority to define areas as likely to affect drinking water supplies and mandate the need for operational inspections. These areas are still being defined between now and Jan 2011 but have already been defined specifically as Lake Simcoe watershed and tributaries with others at the discretion of affected authorities.
If the home has a septic system then it undoubtedly has water well also. When considering the offer to purchase ensure regular water testing has been performed and/or perform your own sampling ASAP following the offer through the local municipality for contamination to ensure your own health but also because the potential mortgage lender may have a "Potable water" clause in their approval process. AH & P can assist in this examination process and /or arrange more involved assistance.
NEW HOME INSPECTIONS; (Sept 11th 2010) I was involved with an inspection recently which shows the value of inspections of new builds, especially for property virgins as some call first time buyers. Even experienced home owners don't always know all the specifics of a homes systems and can be starry eyed and caught up in the moment.
Return and delivery ducting cross connected, gas fireplace not vented and HRV system ducting installed but HRV not. Inefficient operation , sickness and possible life safety issues could be the result of being too trusting. People make errors, one of my tried and trusted statements.... "The only people that don't make errors are people that don't do anything and homes are built by people that are doing something"
New Homes need a professional inspection.
Most PDI's that are performed with the builder are focused on cosmetic items like cabinets, kitchen surfaces and finishes and may be over and completed in an hour or so. A professionally performed home inspection will be at least 3 to 4 hours and focuses on the performance of the home and its systems, electrical, plumbing , ventilation, insulation etc.
Every home should be protected from serious fault by the Tarrion warranty but the process is reliant upon the home owner reporting these issues at the prescribed timelines and if undetected there are no raincheck dates.
Serious issues can be created by fairly innocuous errors if undetected for a long period of time. Building officials have a limited amount of time to spend on each home and if they do discover an issue or accept that offer of a coffee then that detracts from the time available for the following inspections of the day.
SAFETY: (March 24th 2010) 1. Be sure to check the function of the Temperature/Pressure relief valve on the water heater or water boiler installed in your home by depressing the lever slightly and release a small amount of hot water onto the floor. If it does release and reseal than all is good. If it either doesn't release or doesn't reseal then for the small cost of a new valve, or to get your rental provider to come and replace it, is a small price to pay for safety.
IF THIS VALVE MALFUNCTIONS THE RESULT CAN BE SO CATASTROPHIC THE HOME MAY BE LEVELLED .
This test should be carried out annually
2. Replace your furnace filter regularly, monthly, bi monthly or quarterly as required by your environment. If plugged in winter the result can be overheating of the furnace heatexchanger because of a lack of airflow. CRACKS MAY BE THE RESULT. Then Carbon Monoxide may enter the home. If plugged in summer then the AC coil may freeze up, again due to lack of adequate air flow. When this melts water will cascade over the heatexchanger causing rust. Again premature failure of the heatexchanger may result with the possiblility of CO entering the home.
BACTERIAL GROWTH: (June 22nd 2010)You will never see the word " Mould" indicated on my inspection reports unless it can be inconclusively determined that there is a mould issue, as particularly insurance and mortgage companies can become quite concerned about this matter let alone the stresses created for homeowners and possible purchasors. ( I do have a swabbing method of checking this which is outside of my normal inspection scope ) Note there are thousands of types of mould not all are a health concern in themselves and colour is not a true indicator of the type of growth as this is somewhat dependant upon the food available for it.
What is true is that if there is a growth then there is a moisture issue of some type existing which needs greater investigation, efflorescence can be confused with bacterial growth so great care should be exercised when making comment in this type of situation
HEALTH AND SAFETY: (April 28th 2010) Please consider your homes safety should a fire breakout. At minimum homes MUST have smoke detectors installed appropriately (check batteries/function on a regular basis, the internal sensor has a life of approx 10 years), a better system incorporates Carbon Monoxide detection, an even better system includes a heat detector as if a fire burns hot enough and efficiently enough then the Bi-products of combustion will be negligable.
Many retrofit Carbon Monoxide detectors plug into electrical outlets..... ensure they have a battery backup function. Better protection will be provided by a pure battery powered unit, or directly wired into an electrical circuit, as this can be placed at an elevated level. NOTE: Most electrical outlets are approx 18" above the floor, most beds are approx 24" above the floor. If you are trying to protect a sleeping person from CO poisoning.... THIS SITUATION IS INADEQUATE as CO is lighter than air so approaches you from above.
Also regarding Electrical circuits in homes protected by magnetic circuit breakers. If you have a troublesome circuit that regularly trips then this needs replacing by a competant licensed electrical contractor, as each time it trips each successive time it is loaded it will be more likely to trip again as it deteriorates, also regarding Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI's) in the bathroom, kitchen or garden, these have a life cycle of 10 - 15 years and should be properly tested regularly, THIS IS A LIFE SAFETY ISSUE.
CHIMNEYS: (June 5th 2010)This part of your structure along with the roof is very often neglected as they are out of your normal field of vision. Chimneys should be cleaned regularly, particularly if the fuel used is wood as the black deposits, soot and creosote, are a fire hazard if they build up in excess of 1/8" coating. This can also void your insurance if you have no documented proof of cleaning and a chimney fire develops. Ensure you have a rain cap on your chimney as moisture inside can create deterioration of the mortar and bricks themselves on masonry chimneys or rusting will result in steel chimneys. Pointing can repair minor deterioration but if mortar erodes more than 1/2" deep then replacing the bricks may be the expensive solution. Major failure, collapse, of the chimney may finally be the result if ignored long enough. WETT inspection is a neccessary process for wood burning fireplaces along with prior sweeping AH & P can assist in this manner also.
APRIL SHOWERS: (April 30th 2010) At this time of year April Showers bring May Flowers they say, but they can also bring leaky basements. Be vigilent about monitoring potential basement leaks from cracks and check your sump pump, the lonely little piece of hardware in your cold storage or in the corner of the mechanical room. Test it regularly otherwise you may be facing a costly cleanup, consider adding an alarm to it to make you aware if the breaker drops out.
Also keep an eye on the condensate drains from the Air Conditioner you maybe cranking up soon or the drain from the Hi Efficiency furnace that you installed under the now defunct Federal Energy Programme. Ensure there are no kinks or blockages of other types and they are still attached to the drain they are intended for. People don't realise that these 2 pieces of common equipment can generate 1 liter of water every 30 minutes.... potentially 24 hours per day.
MOISTURE: (May 20th 2010) My latest piece of information relates to Moisture/Humidity in the home. First of all Homes built prior to the mid 1980's likely have a humidifier installed these should be on the return plenum of your furnace and the control should be installed in the living area NOT in the basement mechanical room, unless you spend a majority of your time in that area . Newer homes are more adequately sealed retaining their moisture so likely do not need that added moisture, rather more emphasis should be upon purging that moisture from the home to prevent Microbial Growth (Mould/Mildew)..........NOTE my reports never use the word "Mould" only a lab is capable of identifying mould to 100% certainty. Exhaust fans should be used to excess; bathroom and kitchen, if you have a Heatilator ( HRV) use this system regularly. Otherwise regularly opening windows/doors will do the deal also although this is not the common practice in modern life year round. A way of removing the moisture in your bathroom quickly after a shower is to turn on the cold faucet for a few minutes after you have stepped out of the shower, this will counteract the airborne heat as quickly if not quicker than opening the window especially if its already humid outside.
Many people are not aware, but listed below is the amount of moisture released into the air on a regular basis in your home:
First Year of Occupation in New Construction: approx 2500 litres as the interior dries.
Daily living 4 person family: 10 litres per day
1 Cord of Wood Fuel for Wood Stove: 5 liters per day
Exposed soil in Basement: 50 litres per day
Airconditioner/Hi Efficiency Furnace up to 1/2 liter of condensate per hour
EVEN NEW HOMES: (July 30 2010) All homes need TLC and maintenance.
Electrical panels should have the screws retorqued on the terminals inside the electrical panel by an approved technician approx 12 months after installation / occupation. This is due to loosening of these connections caused by initial expansion / contraction of the connections and the wire itself and settling of the terminals screw connections.
A symptom of this could be fluctuations noted in the lighting of a particular room.
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