Friday, February 10, 2017

What's The Difference Between A Gable and Hip Roof For My Insurance?


A gable roof slopes inward on two sides, and the other two sides have a wall with a triangle shape at the top; whereas, a hip roof slopes in on all four sides. The photo above shows intersecting gable and hip roofs: the hip roof is in the back on the main part of the house, and gable roof at the protruding garage. 
And here they are again below, represented in diagrams along with other popular roof styles. Hip roofs are more complicated and labor-intensive to build, but are also more wind-resistant in a storm. Gable roofs are easier and less expensive to build, but the triangle-shaped “gable end” is prone to collapse in a hurricane force wind if not properly braced, with a domino-effect knocking down a row of roof framing members once the gable end collapses.

Because hip roofs have been proven in wind tunnel tests to be significantly more hurricane-resistant than gable roofs, there is a windstorm insurance discount for homeowners in Florida that have a roof shape that is at least 90% hip. The calculation is made by measuring the length of the perimeter (edge at fascia) of the roof that is a hip shape as a proportion of the total perimeter. The big gable end at the garage door in the home above would disqualify it for the hip roof discount.

As you might expect with an insurance industry calculation, there are several complicating factors. A gable roof that covers an open entry area, and a porch roof that is attached to the main structure only at the fascia and is not over an enclosed living space, are both not considered as deductions in the calculation of hip perimeter length. Also, a very low-slope or flat roof that is more than 10% of the total roof area over the living space of the home overrides all the other calculations and eliminates the discount.

While engineers and insurance companies evaluate these two most common roof structures based on strength and cost parameters, architects see the two types of roofs as part of their design vocabulary, and it is currently popular to have the main mass of the house topped with a hip roof, with smaller gables added as a kind of embellishment for entry porches, dormers, and garages.

The roof shape is just one element in what your insurance agent calls a “wind letter”  or “wind mitigation form,” but is officially known as the “Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form.” To find out more about the form, go to our blog: What is a wind mitigation form for homeowner's insurance?

 If you have had a windstorm mitigation inspection and did not get the discounts you were expecting, see our blog post: Why did I get no discounts or only a small discount from my wind mitigation inspection?

You can discover more ways to reduce your homeowner’s insurance premium at our blog: How can I lower my homeowners insurance cost?

To learn about the average lifespan of different roof materials, check out our blog: What’s the average lifespan of a roof?

To recognize when it’s time to replace your roof, go to our blog: How can I tell if the house needs a new roof?

If you want to understand the difference between an “architectural” and a regular shingle roof, see our blog: What's the difference between an "architectural" and a regular shingle roof?

To figure out why your roof is leaking, go to our blog: Why is my roof leaking?
If you can find the answer to any of the above questions, contact either Van or Bill at SitePro 850-934-6800

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What Is A Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner?


The most common type of heating and air conditioning system in the U.S. is a “central split-system,” which has two parts: an outdoor condenser unit and an indoor air handler. The air handler is at a central location in the home and distributes conditioned air through ducts to registers (vents) in the floor or ceiling of each room.

 A “ductless mini-split” is also a split system with an outdoor and indoor unit, but there are no ducts. The conditioned air is distributed directly from the indoor unit, which is usually wall-mounted and controlled by a hand-held remote. Most mini-splits are heat pumps, but they are also available as only a cooling air conditioner.

The wall-mount air handler can only service one room, but there are mini-split systems with an outdoor condenser that can serve up to four wall-mounted air handlers. The essential difference between the two types of systems is that a central system distributes air to each room through ducts, while a mini-split delivers refrigerant through small pipes to an air handler in each room it serves.

Mini-splits are more popular in Europe, the Caribbean, South America and much of the rest of the world than in the United States. They have several advantages when compared with a central system:

1)Because they have no ducts, mini-splits avoid the energy loss inherent in a ducted system.

2)Each wall-mounted air handler can be separately adjusted, so a multiple air handler system creates individual zones that can be separately adjusted to the requirements of each room.

3)The small size makes them easier to install, and they are often the only choice when retro-fitting a system into a home with no attic or crawl space for duct installation—unless you are will willing to tolerate the noise and inefficiency of a wall/window air conditioner. 

There are, of course, a couple of disadvantages:

1)A mini-split unit is about 30% more expensive than a central split-system.

2)Some people do not like the appearance of a wall-mounted air handler in a room.


You can usually tell what type of system is inside the home by the shape of the outside condenser unit. Mini-splits have tall and narrow condensers compared to the cube shape of most central split-system condensers, as shown in the photo below.

Mini-split condensers are also often bracket-mounted on the side of urban buildings in some areas.

Monday, February 6, 2017

HOW DO I REMOVE CIGARETTE ODOR IN A HOUSE?



A home with residual tobacco smoke odor is harder to sell and fetches a lower price compared to an odor-free home. If you are considering buying a home formerly occupied by a heavy smoker, be sure that the discount from market value you are getting is enough to offset the cost of odor removal. A recent tobacco odor mitigation by a professional contractor for a home in the Pensacola, Navarre areas cost the buyer approximately $5,000 for a 2600 square foot house.

If you decide to tackle the project yourself, here’s what has to be done, assuming you are working with an empty house that has had all furniture and personal belongings removed:

1)Remove and replace all carpeting and curtains. Scrub the floor under carpeting before replacement. For light smoke odor, professional cleaning of carpet and curtains may be acceptable.

2)Walls and ceilings coated with a sealer and repainted. It may be necessary to lightly clean some surfaces first, to remove any surface oils/grease. We recommend Zinsser’s B-I-N shellac-based primer/sealer as a first coat to keep any odors from penetrating the final coats of paint.

3)Throughly clean all hard surfaces, such as kitchen cabinets, windows, blinds, and plumbing fixtures. Ammonia or a stain and odor removal product with an oxidizing agent is recommended.

4)Replace light bulbs.

5)Use a filter at the air conditioner that has a layer of activated charcoal, such as the 3M Filtrete Odor Reduction Filter, set the fan at “ON” to run continuously, and change filter frequently until odor is gone.

Don’t get burnt. Be sure to allow for both the expense of the cleaning and also the lost time that the house cannot be occupied while the smoke odor is being mitigated when you negotiate the purchase price, otherwise any  savings will go up in smoke.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GABLE AND HIP ROOF FOR MY INSURANCE?



A gable roof slopes inward on two sides, and the other two sides have a wall with a triangle shape at the top; whereas, a hip roof slopes in on all four sides. The photo above shows intersecting gable and hip roofs: the hip roof is in the back on the main part of the house, and gable roof at the protruding garage. 

And here they are again below, represented in diagrams along with other popular roof styles. Hip roofs are more complicated and labor-intensive to build, but are also more wind-resistant in a storm. Gable roofs are easier and less expensive to build, but the triangle-shaped “gable end” is prone to collapse in a hurricane force wind if not properly braced, with a domino-effect knocking down a row of roof framing members once the gable end collapses.
 

Because hip roofs have been proven in wind tunnel tests to be significantly more hurricane-resistant than gable roofs, there is a windstorm insurance discount for homeowners in Florida that have a roof shape that is at least 90% hip. The calculation is made by measuring the length of the perimeter (edge at fascia) of the roof that is a hip shape as a proportion of the total perimeter. The big gable end at the garage door in the home above would disqualify it for the hip roof discount.

As you might expect with an insurance industry calculation, there are several complicating factors. A gable roof that covers an open entry area, and a porch roof that is attached to the main structure only at the fascia and is not over an enclosed living space, are both not considered as deductions in the calculation of hip perimeter length. Also, a very low-slope or flat roof that is more than 10% of the total roof area over the living space of the home overrides all the other calculations and eliminates the discount.



While engineers and insurance companies evaluate these two most common roof structures based on strength and cost parameters, architects see the two types of roofs as part of their design vocabulary, and it is currently popular to have the main mass of the house topped with a hip roof, with smaller gables added as a kind of embellishment for entry porches, dormers, and garages.

The roof shape is just one element in what your insurance agent calls a “wind letter”  or “wind mitigation form,” but is officially known as the “Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form.” To find out more about the form, go to our blog: What is a wind mitigation form for homeowner's insurance?

If you have had a windstorm mitigation inspection and did not get the discounts you were expecting, see our blog post: Why did I get no discounts or only a small discount from my wind mitigation inspection?

You can discover more ways to reduce your homeowner’s insurance premium at our blog: How can I lower my homeowners insurance cost?

To learn about the average lifespan of different roof materials, check out our blog or facebook: What’s the average lifespan of a roof?

To recognize when it’s time to replace your roof, go to our blog or facebook: How can I tell if the house needs a new roof?

If you want to understand the difference between an “architectural” and a regular shingle roof, see our blog or facebook: 

What's the difference between an "architectural" and a regular shingle roof?

To figure out why your roof is leaking, go to our facebook: Why is my roof leaking?

If you can find the answer to any of the above questions, contact either Van or Bill at SitePro 850-934-6800


WHY IS PRESSURE WASHING DOUBLE PANE WINDOWS AN EXPENSIVE MISTAKE?


Double pane windows provide insulation with an inert gas that the manufacturer seals into the space between the panes. It is usually argon or krypton, both of which are better insulators that air. 

All insulated windows lose their gas over time as air gradually leaks into the gap between the panes, which brings along moisture. Manufacturers insert a desiccant, such as silica, between the panes to absorb any moisture intrusion, but it eventually becomes saturated and allows condensation to form on the interior surfaces of the glass. Dust in the air collects on the condensation and builds up over time, which gradually clouds the window. This is a normal process for a double or triple pane window as it reaches the end of its lifespan. The cloudiness is a cosmetic issue, but the loss of inert gas reduces the insulating ability of the window and affects the energy efficiency of the home.

A back-and-forth action that has been dubbed “thermal pumping” contributes to the loss of the gas over time. It is the expansion and contraction, along with flexing in and out, of the glass and surrounding frame and seals with changes in temperature. Sides of a home exposed to direct sun are more prone to the effects of thermal pumping and it can’t be avoided.

But pressure washing double pane windows creates even more pressure and flexing of the outside pane, with corresponding movement at the seal. It is possible to break the seal sufficiently to lose all the inert gas quickly when blasting a window with high-pressure water. We sometimes visit a home less than 10-years old that the homeowner has pressure-washed and 90% of the windows are clouded over. 

 So don’t do it. Avoid expensive window replacements by washing your windows the old-fashioned way with a soapy solution and garden-hose water pressure. Although pressure washing is one cause of premature clouding of double pane windows, a manufacturing defect or poor installation that squeezes the frame can also cause seal failure. Further investigation may be necessary if you have a large number of windows in your home cloud over at the same time, but no history of pressure washing.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What Are The Most Common Defects With Over-The-Range Microwaves?



Because we work and live in a vacation resort area, and inspect a lot of condominiums near the beach, the over-the-range microwave receives close attention. It is a vacationers second most-used food prep appliance—after the phone for ordering pizza. Microwaves get a lot of abuse, and don’t have a long lifespan. Also, the replacement units are usually installed by a handyman. So a condo is an enhanced version of the microwave problems we find in a regular residence. Here’s our top 5 typical defects:

1)Does not vent to exterior - Microwaves come out-of-the-box set up to exhaust out the front and the baffle plate has to be adjusted and fan rotated to reconfigure for top or back exhaust, so it blows through a duct to the roof or out an exterior wall. A microwave that has ductwork in place to exhaust cooking fumes to the exterior, but has not been configured to do it by the installer, is a common defect. 

2)Not on separate circuit - The building code requires that a microwave which is fastened in place have a separate 20-amp circuit. Depending on the size, they are rated to draw between 8 and 13 amps. Other appliances operated at the same time can overload the circuit if the microwave is on a shared circuit. We test by seeing If the microwave still works when we trip the GFCIs at the countertop or the kitchen appliance breaker(s). It is not uncommon in a remodeled older house to find that the dishwasher and microwave are both on a single countertop appliance circuit.

3)Loose mounting - Even a mounting that is slightly loose is noted because, once it begins to loosen, the mounting deteriorates progressively with usage. 

4)Not functional - There are two kinds of “not functional”: a) completely dead, with unresponsive control panel, and b) sounds like it is working but does not heat a test cup of water.

5)Radiation leakage due to damaged door or handle - This is typically only a problem if there is damage to the seal around the door or the handle. We use a digital microwave leakage meter, shown below, and report if the leakage exceeds the 5.0 milliwatt threshold set by the EPA. A recent survey by appliance service technicians found that over half of the microwaves more than two years old have leakage at least 10% higher than 5.0 milliwatts.
A separate issue that is open to interpretation at this time is the height of the bottom of the microwave above the top of the range. The IRC (Interational Residential Code) defers to the manufacturer’s installation instructions regarding the correct distance. All the manufacturer installation manuals we
have seen specify that the top of the microwave should be located 66 inches above the floor. This is, coincidentally, also the standard height of the bottom of a wall cabinet in most kitchens for installation of a range hood fan. But an over-the-range microwave/fan combo is taller, between 15 and 18 inches high. When you deduct the 36-inch height of a range, the space between the top of the range and the bottom of the microwave is between 12 and 15 inches. If the controls are at the back of the range, most people of normal height cannot see the controls while standing upright, and have to lean down and reach over the hot range—just a few inches above large, and possibly boiling, pots—to change a temperature setting. Conversely, the NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) recommends that the bottom of the microwave be no more than 54 inches above the floor, which allows 18 inches clearance above the range. Otherwise, a shorter person would be reaching over their head to remove a hot item from the microwave—which is also dangerous. One building department jurisdiction in our area now requires an 18 inch clearance between range and bottom or microwave. We (SitePro Home Inspections) think that higher or lower should probably be determined by the needs of the occupants of the house.

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Typical Outline of the SitePro Home Inspection:

A SitePro Home Inspection consist of an educational tour of the property if you are available. We encouraged you to accompany our SitePro inspectors to gain valuable "show & tell" information, to ask questions, and to gain knowledge regarding the true condition of the property. 
SitePro Home Inspectors will follow a practiced, efficient and comprehensive methodology to examine the entire home. The SitePro inspector will also use an earnest effort to disclose the visual problems of importance and to document those observations in a final narrative report that you can read and understand in order to make intelligent decisions. The inspection process begins with a tour of the exterior of the home including the roof, and then progresses into the attic.
Outside, the inspector will observe such things as the drainage grade on the property, vegetation, driveways & walks, entrances, porches, decks, foundation above grade, sliding doors & windows, soffit, garage, roof, gutters and chimneys. While not required, an effort is made to climb on the roof to inspect it from above unless the height, pitch and weather conditions put the inspector's safety at risk. If climbing on the roof is not possible, the roof is examined by binoculars, or from a sub-roof or by a ladder at the eaves. While outside, the inspector will observe the condition and function of each of the mechanical systems including: heating system, electrical system, plumbing system, hot water heater and central air conditioning system. Also the professional SitePro home inspector will observe the condition of the structure including: foundation, columns and floor frame.
Special efforts are made to disclose any evidence of decay or water infiltration. Progressing upwards, the inspector next examines the kitchen. He checks the function of the sink and all plumbing connections and briefly operates the appliances.
Each bathroom fixture is examined and the functional condition is evaluated. Within the living spaces, walls, floors, ceilings and staircases are all examined along with a representative sample of windows, outlets, switches & lights. The SitePro professional inspector will even stick his head inside the fireplace. While in the attic, the building inspector will examine the accessible parts of the roof structure. He also alerts you regarding signs of previous roof or flashing leaks and potential leakage points. The attic insulation, vapor barrier and means of ventilation are also inspected.
At the conclusion of the actual inspection of the property a full verbal report will be given to you. The inspector will then return to the SitePro office where a full reference library is available to the inspector so any additional facts can be copied and made available to you, something a on the spot report cannot do. We spend on average 2-3 hours after the property inspection to prepare a very comprehensive narrative final report. The report will document all of the observations made at the time of inspection and will advise you to contact other qualified experts when major repairs are anticipated. The report is then delivered to you in a form that can be easily read and understood. After the SitePro residential inspection process has been completed we will always provide as much free phone consultation as needed