Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bathroom Ventilation Ducts and Fans


Bathroom ventilation systems are designed to exhaust odors and moist air to the home's exterior. Typical systems consist of a ceiling fan unit connected to a duct that terminates at the roof.   

Fan Function  


The fan may be controlled in one of several ways:
  • Most are controlled by a conventional wall switch.
  • A timer switch may be mounted on the wall.
  • A wall-mounted humidistat can be pre-set to turn the fan on and off based on different levels of relative humidity.
Newer fans may be very quiet but work just fine. Older fans may be very noisy or very quiet. If an older fan is quiet, it may not be working well. Inspectors can test for adequate fan airflow with a chemical smoke pencil or a powder puff bottle, but such tests exceed InterNACHI's Standards of Practice.

Bathroom ventilation fans should be inspected for dust buildup that can impede air flow. Particles of moisture-laden animal dander and lint are attracted to the fan because of its static charge. Inspectors should comment on dirty fan covers.
Ventilation systems should be installed in all bathrooms. This includes bathrooms with windows, since windows will not be opened during the winter in cold climates.

Defects

The following conditions indicate insufficient bathroom ventilation:
  • moisture stains on walls or ceilings;
  • corrosion of metal;
  • visible mold on walls or ceilings;
  • peeling paint or wallpaper;
  • frost on windows; and
  • high levels of humidity.
The most common defect related to bathroom ventilation systems is improper termination of the duct. Vents must terminate at the home exterior.

The most common improper terminations locations are:
  • mid-level in the attic. These are easy to spot;
  • beneath the insulation. You need to remember to look. The duct may terminate beneath the insulation or there may be no duct installed; and 
  • under attic vents. The duct must terminate at the home exterior, not just under it.
Improperly terminated ventilation systems may appear to work fine from inside the bathroom, so the inspector may have to look in the attic or on the roof. Sometimes, poorly installed ducts will loosen or become disconnected at joints or connections.

Ducts that leak or terminate in attics can cause problems from condensation. Warm, moist air will condense on cold attic framing, insulation and other materials. This condition has the potential to cause health and/or decay problems from mold, or damage to building materials, such as drywall. Moisture also reduces the effectiveness of thermal insulation.

Improper Ventilation

Ventilation ducts must be made from appropriate materials and oriented effectively in order to ensure that stale air is properly exhausted.

Ventilation ducts must:
  • terminate outdoors. Ducts should never terminate within the building envelope;
  • contain a screen or louvered (angled) slats at its termination to prevent bird, rodent and insect entry;
  • be as short and straight as possible and avoid turns. Longer ducts allow more time for vapor to condense and also force the exhaust fan to work harder;
  • be insulated, especially in cooler climates. Cold ducts encourage condensation;
  • protrude at least several inches from the roof;
  • be equipped with a roof termination cap that protects the duct from the elements; and 
  • be installed according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
The following tips are helpful, although not required. Ventilation ducts should:
  • be made from inflexible metal, PVC, or other rigid material. Unlike dryer exhaust vents, they should not droop; and 
  • have smooth interiors. Ridges will encourage vapor to condense, allowing water to back-flow into the exhaust fan or leak through joints onto vulnerable surfaces.
Above all else, a bathroom ventilation fan should be connected to a duct capable of venting water vapor and odors into the outdoors. Mold growth within the bathroom or attic is a clear indication of improper ventilation that must be corrected in order to avoid structural decay and respiratory health issues.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Inspection Types: Buyers Home


Inspections With Your Interests In Mind

After saving and dreaming for months and years, you've finally found the home of your dreams. It has just the right d├ęcor, space, bedrooms and amenities you and your family need right now. You’ve checked out the schools. You’ve checked out the neighborhood. You‘ve even timed the drive to and from work. BUT, have you taken seriously the importance of having a BUYER’S HOME INSPECTION done on your home? One where YOUR interests are in mind? Probably not.

Perhaps your neighbor has mentioned a home inspector or your REALTOR has referred their favorite home inspector? Can you be assured that this home inspector will take the time not only to perform a thorough and detailed inspection, but walk through the entire home explaining defects mentioned in the report as well as maintenance items? Will this inspector explain how systems work in a fun and educational manner so you know and feel comfortable with your home? After all, this is YOUR home and you want to know as much as you can about it! Finally, when you are nearing the end of the inspection, will the inspector be scrambling to get you a report onsite or will he review his notes and prepare one of the most easily understood and professional reports in the industry within 12-24 hours? After all, it is your home. Do you want a rushed inspection and report with possible errors or one that has YOUR best interests in mind?

SitePro always has your interests in mind! After all, the largest part of our business is from happy past clients who have gone through the home buying process just like you. So buy that home and schedule your inspection today knowing you have a trusted inspection company with your interests in mind!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

SitePro Home Inspections FAQ's


Q: How do I choose a Home Inspector?
A:
 Call up and ask about their credentials and experience. If for some reason you don't feel comfortable asking this of the inspector when speaking with them on the phone then how will you feel asking questions at the inspection. You must feel that the inspector is qualified, experienced and attentive of your needs.

Q: What qualifications or credentials should a home inspector offer?
A:
 When choosing a home inspector, begin with a list of association members in your area. Then check to see who among these is the most experienced and has the most outstanding reputation for thoroughness as an inspector. And be sure to attend your inspection. That way, you'll learn as much as possible from your member inspector. Some have college degrees in fields related to construction such as engineering and architecture. A few have passed the same code certification examinations that the building code officials are required to pass.

Q: What will the inspection cover?
A:
 A thorough Inspection covers everything from roof to the foundation.

Items that are included in the Inspection are as follows:
  • Attic
  • Insulation
  • Ventilation
  • Roof & Flashings
  • Gutters
  • Basement
  • Crawlspace
  • Foundation
  • Grading
  • Retaining Walls
  • Siding & Trim
  • Driveways & Walks
  • Ceilings
  • Floors
  • Walls
  • Doors & Windows
  • Chimney
  • Fireplace
  • Major Appliances
  • Electrical System
  • Water Heater
  • Plumbing System
  • Air Conditioning
  • Heating


Q: How long will the Inspection take?
A:
 Most Inspections take about three to four hours. These times may vary depending on the size, age & condition of the home.

Q: Should I be present during the Inspection?
A:
 We recommend that you be present at the site of the inspection, from start to finish.

Q: Why use our Services?
A:
 The purchase of a new home is one of the single most costly investments that a family will make. Along with the extra stresses this will add, there is also the fear factor of, "Will This Home Stand The Test of Time?" It is also important to know what YOU, as the primary investor, are getting for your money.
A home inspection is an excellent tool for you, the home buyer, to help determine not only the condition of the home, but to also help foresee any immediate unnecessary additional cost that may go unnoticed without the help of a home inspection. Home inspections are not a prediction of future performance, but can pinpoint existing problem areas.

Q: Why can't I have someone in my family who is very handy or a contractor, inspect my new home?
A:
 This is the biggest mistake many potential new homeowners make when purchasing a home. Although the person you are considering may be very skilled, they are not trained or experienced at professional home inspections. Professional home inspection is a unique skill like no other. Professional inspectors get what we call an inspector's instinct for problems. That instinct takes extensive training and lots of experience doing inspections to develop. Many contractors, and other trades professionals hire a professional home inspector to inspect their homes when they make a purchase.

Q: What if I have questions after the inspection?
A:
 You can call us and discuss all the aspects of your new home whenever you like. Our service is a long-term investment.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Fresh Paint and Carpet? Buyers Beware What Lies Below











Eager buyers of the housing bubble carcasses should beware of languishing properties receiving a face-lift. Under that fresh paint and carpet may lay a homeowner's nightmare.

In the surge of desire to own a home in a depressed market, it's easy to rush in and go for cheap. So easy that plenty of investors are buying up properties, and often refurbishing and reselling (flipping) them. And while many are doing the right thing and offering quality properties, we've seen evidence that hidden pitfalls await the unwary.

Just down the road is a home that was purchased in the market's heyday. The new owners promptly began gutting the house, adding a second story and starting to put on a tile roof. Then the market tanked, and the house has sat for over two years, untouched, exterior Tyvek paper walls yellowing and unprotected, a partially clad roof exposed to the elements. What unlucky person will eventually buy the home, never knowing that it sat decaying for years.

Nearby sits nearly an acre of parched property, all that remains of a once majestic home, abandoned and demolished, now parsed into four weedy lots for sale. Wonder if the bank that presumably now owns it knows that in one lot, under the weeds, lays an old swimming pool that the transitional owner filled in with concrete -- a nightmare for anyone planning to build a home there.

So what's a buyer to do? Cross your fingers and hope for the best? Actually, there are resources to use to protect you.

The key is to research the property's permit history. Contact SitePro for the permit history. For most construction, including windows and pools, a permit must be obtained from the city. These permits expire within different windows of time. If a home receives multiple permits for the same project, it is likely it has been sitting there unfinished for a while. Depending on the project, buyers beware. Such homes that have been sitting too long without work or inspections receive a warning and may be subject to demolition for failure to respond.

Checking a property's permit history also helps reveal significant changes. Say a pool permit was taken in the 1960s, but now no pool is evident. The buyer may want to do some research to determine what happened to the pool.

Of course a home inspection is encouraged, prior to purchase, because what you see isn't necessarily what you get. As an example, those new outlets may be put on old wiring. As a result, while the three-prong outlet may imply the appliances will be grounded, in reality they're not. A SitePro inspector can determine that.

The lesson is, only fools rush in when it comes to buying a house. Take the time to do your homework!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

When Do You Replace The Roof? And Other Home Systems... Ask Anyone Of The SitePro Professional Inspectors


Many homes for sale boast claims that the appliances are new, the roof replaced, and kitchens and baths recently "updated."  But just how soon can you expect to start repairing and replacing major home components and appliances? A lot depends on how well the sellers (and prior owners) maintained the property, as well as how you've been using the space. Other factors that influence the lifespan of major home systems include the materials used to build them and your climate.

The typical roof, for instance, is designed to last approximately 20 years, according to the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA). However, a roof's lifespan is affected by the slope of the roof, the material used to build the roof, and the weather conditions in your area. Maintenance can extend a roof's life five to 10 years. Similarly, a slate roof will last up to 75 years, whereas a roof made of selvage- or asphalt-based materials could show significant signs of wear within 12 years.

Here's a look at how long most major home systems last, based on data from Freddie Mac*, the lender, and data published in Realty Times. These time frames can help you plan when to address different home systems either as part of a home maintenance regime or a planned remodeling project. If you're in the market to buy a home and you have the opportunity to ask a seller or the seller's agent how old the home's different systems are, or if that information is contained in the home's listing information, then you can plan when you'll need to replace these home components - or negotiate on them with the seller.

If you're planning to sell a home soon, consider whether you're willing to fund repairs and replacements beforehand - or if your pre-listing inspector will give an estimate of how long various systems seem like they'll last. Home repairs and replacements can be expensive, so the more information you have as a buyer or seller, the better equipped you'll be to handle the inevitable expenses they create.

Appliances or system           Lifespan (years)

Kitchen appliances
Dishwasher                              5-12
Disposals                                 5-12
Microwave                              10
Refrigerator                              15-20
Stove                                       15-20
Trash compactor                      10
Washer/dryer                            8-12

Roofs and gutters
Asbestos shingle roof                 30-50
Asphalt roof                              15-20
Copper gutter/downspout    Life of home if well-maintained
Fiberglass roof                           15-20
Galvanized gutter/downspout      15-20
Slate roof                                   40-75
Rolled/asphalt roof                     12-20
Wood shake/shingle roof            15-20

Heating and cooling systems
Warm air furnace                       8-12
Heat pumps                               8-12
Air conditioning compressor       8-15
Gas hot water heater                  8-12
Electric hot water                      10-15

Bathroom and plumbing
Septic disposal system               15-25
Galvanized water pipes              30-50
Toilet                                         5-6
Sink                                          45-50
Tub                                           50

Other systems
Doors to exterior                        12-15
Garage door opener                   10
Driveway                                    5-8
Deck                                          10-12

*Data provided here are intended as estimates only. The health of home systems varies widely based on ongoing maintenance, the type of home system in use, and climate.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Oooooh That Smell. Can't You Smell That Smell?



As SitePro begins our 9th year, we thought we'd start by covering one of the more glamorous topics in Real-Estate. Unfortunately, with homes sitting vacant, this noxious subject is sometimes unavoidable and can make a bad impression on an otherwise good deal. That otherwise beautiful home is emitting a smell that many buyers and agents will wrongly associate with mold, however there's often a different cause.  

SEWER GAS
With the large number of foreclosed homes sitting vacant for lengthy periods, water from the bathrooms toilets and P-Traps (that pipe under the sinks that contains water) evaporates or drains out, at which time you start getting a really unpleasant sewage smell permeating the house. The P-Trap prevents the noxious sewer gas from backing up into the house.


Sewer Gas Toilet       Sink P-Trap

What is sewer gas?

 

Sewer gas is a complex mixture of toxic and non-toxic gases that can be present at varying levels depending upon the source.  It is formed during the decay of household and industrial waste. Highly toxic components of sewer gas include hydrogen sulfide and ammonia.
Sewer gas also contains methane, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxides. In addition, chlorine bleaches, industrial solvents, and gasoline are frequently present in municipal and privately owned-sewage treatment systems.

How are people exposed to sewer gas?

Sewer gas can enter a home through a floor drain, from a leaking or blocked plumbing roof vent, or (if the gases are in soil adjacent to the house) through cracks in foundations.  Sanitary and farm workers can be exposed to sewer gas during the cleaning and maintenance of municipal sewers, manure storage tanks, and home septic tanks.
Rats

Note: Lines devoid of water become an avenue for Rats, Snakes and other unwelcome guests to enter the dwelling.
    


What are the effects of exposure to sewer gas?


The principal risks and effects associated with exposure are:
  • Hydrogen sulfide poisoning. Exposure to low levels of hydrogen sulfide causes irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract. Other symptoms include nervousness, dizziness, nausea, headache, and drowsiness. This gas smells like rotten eggs, even at extremely low concentrations.  Exposure to high concentrations can interfere with the sense of smell, making this warning signal unreliable. At extremely high levels, hydrogen sulfide can cause immediate loss of consciousness and death.
  • Asphyxiation. High concentrations of methane in enclosed areas can lead to suffocation as large amounts of methane will decrease the amount of oxygen in the air. The effects of oxygen deficiency include headache, nausea, dizziness and unconsciousness. At very low oxygen concentrations (<12%), unconsciousness and death may occur very quickly and without warning.  Sewer gas diffuses and mixes with indoor air, and will be most concentrated where it is entering the home.  
  • Explosion and fire. Methane and hydrogen sulfide are flammable and highly explosive.

How can you avoid being exposed to sewer gas?
  • Flush floor and sink drains with water to prevent the traps in pipes to the sewer from drying out.
  • Occasionally check the roof plumbing vent for blockage from debris such as leaves or bird nests.
  • Never enter a municipal sewer line, manure-storage tank or any other large storage tank without proper training and equipment.

What should you do if you suspect a problem?

First, following the odor, try to locate the point of entry, such as a floor drain. Check for a blocked rooftop plumbing gas vent. By adding water to the floor drain or removing debris from a roof plumbing stack vent you may be able to prevent sewer gas from entering your home.  In the unlikely event that a leak in gas vent plumbing is behind walls, a plumber may be needed to find and fix it.  

Symptoms of headache, nausea, dizziness, or drowsiness may indicate exposure to an odorless gas like methane or carbon monoxide, or to hydrogen sulfide, which smells of rotten eggs.  Persons experiencing severe symptoms should seek immediate medical care.

If you suspect that high concentrations of sewer gas have accumulated in an enclosed space, you should evacuate the area and contact the fire department for assistance. Avoid creating an ignition source such a spark from an electrical appliance, match, or cigarette lighter.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

SitePro Commercial Inspections


Whether you own, lease, or are purchasing a building, don't wait to find out the condition of the building and its systems. It is a pretty good hunch that this property was a major investment and the last thing you want are more costs. After all, no one likes surprises. That's why an inspection is intended to tell you the condition of the building and property--and, reduce your risk.

A SitePro inspection is an objective review of your building and property. Knowing the condition of a building will allow you to budget more accurately and provide for expenditures in the future -- whether it's a new roof, HVAC or simply maintenance related items. Not knowing this information, or worse yet guessing, can have major consequences.

  • What condition are the building's systems and components in?
  • What costly defects are there which require attention now?
  • What expenditures will be required to repair, maintain or replace items in the near future?

If you can't answer these questions about the property you're planning to buy or lease, you probably should consider an inspection before buying the property.

Buying a building and property is a very anxious time filled with doubts, deadlines and so on. Reducing or removing uncertainties can make your real estate transaction go smoother. The same holds true when you lease, by knowing the condition of the building and property from the outset. Estimating future repair costs and the replacement of building components and systems requires an inspection to determine their current condition. With this information estimated life spans can be ascertained along with the related costs to repair, maintain or replace items.


What Type of Commercial Properties are Typically Inspected?
We inspect commercial buildings of all shapes and sizes.
For example:

  • Shopping Centers & Strip Malls
  • Office Buildings, Apartments & Condominiums
  • Light Industrial Properties
  • Religious & Institutional Properties
  • Recreational Facilities & Sports Complexes


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Florida Wind Mitigation Inspections... Significance for the Realtor Community


Six out of ten Florida homeowners already qualify for a discount on their homeowner's insurance policy without doing anything other than having an inspection and filing a Wind Mitigation Certificate with their current insurance company... What does that fact mean to the Realtor community?

Simple... You can improve your relationship with your clients by helping them save up to 40% on the cost of their homeowner's insurance policy.  Lower insurance costs on homes you have listed can be used as a unique selling point to attract buyers, while wind mitigation inspections performed in conjunction with a standard home inspection can over the lifetime of the certificate return much more than the cost of all inspection procedures performed.

Information gleaned from a wind mitigation inspection report performed during the listing process could alert the savvy Real Estate agent to conditions which could impinge the easy sale of a home and help screen the best listings, thus saving precious marketing resources.

Today the Realtor who is seeking every edge in an attempt to gain market share and provide the very best service to their clients would be wise to incorporate wind mitigation inspections into their checklist for both buyers and sellers.  It is a win-win solution you can't afford pass up.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tips for Saving Money on Power and Utility Bills


Going green can do more than save the environment; it will also save you money. By following a few simple tips you can save resources and money on your power and utility bills.

Power Bills

Something as easy as changing your air filters regularly will lower your electric bill. Change them once a month to make it easier for your air conditioner to work, which uses less energy and give the machine a longer life. Keeping the house well insulated and replacing weather stripping regularly will also take pressure off of your air conditioner. Solar screens can be professionally installed or you can install them yourself. This addition to your home will lower the temperature by five to ten degrees before using the air conditioner.

LED light bulbs are a practical alternative to traditional bulbs. They have an even greater lifespan than CFL bulbs, ten years to be precise, and fit well into most outlets. LED light bulbs also use a fraction of the electricity that standard light bulbs do. Planting shade trees near the house will keep the temperature cool while improving the air quality.

Utility Bills

Replacing old appliances with new energy saving models will greatly reduce both energy and utility bills. Newer dishwashers and washing machines require less water than older appliances. Adding aerators to faucets and showers can improve water conservation. Just be sure that the gallon per minute (GPM) is around 1.5. New toilets are typically created to conserve water. The older models can waste 27 percent of the water in a household. It is also helpful to replace the flapper regularly to prevent leaking and add a refill diverter. Displace the water in the tank by filling a water bottle with sand and placing it in the tank. This will allow the tank to fill with less water and still flush.

If you have a pool, keep it covered to prevent water evaporation. Solar covers are available. Landscape with local plants that do not require much water, and use drip irrigation to maintain them. You should also try to water between midnight and 4 am for the best results.

Friday, January 4, 2013

How to prepare for a SitePro Inspection

A SitePro Inspector has been scheduled and On The Way!
(How to prepare for a SitePro Home Inspection)


 

There are routine steps that sellers can take to help ensure that a SitePro inspection goes off without any issues. 

Most steps are part of your regular maintenance and quite easy and inexpensive. Some of the remedies are obvious but could be overlooked by an anxious sellers. Above all, sellers should not try quick, inexpensive repairs, this could cause questions and concern to SitePro inspectors and prospective buyers.
  
Exterior
  • Provide at least 6" of clearance between grade/ mulch and siding. Decks should be properly graded.
  • Dirty gutters and debris should be cleaned from the roof and basement entry drains should be cleaned out as well.
  • The property grade should slope away from the home so that water is diverted away from the house.
  • Downspouts, condensation drains, and the like should all drain away from the home.
  • Trees, roots, and bushes should be trimmed away from the home's foundation, roof, siding, and chimney.  
  • All weathered exterior wood should be painted. Caulking should be placed around the chimney, windows, and doors.Exterior repair
  • Rotting wood and/or firewood should not be in contact with the house.
  • If the asphalt driveway is cracking, it should be sealed.
  • Masonry chimney caps should be sealed or pointed up. Metal flue caps should also be installed on chimneys.
  • Any faulty mortar joints in a home's brick or block should be pointed up.
  • The home's HVAC filter should be cleaned or replaced, if needed. Dirty air returns and plenum need cleaning, too.
  • All doors and windows must be in proper working condition.
  • If windowpanes are fogged and/or broken, sellers need to have them replaced, or repaired if possible.
Interior
  • Make sure any burned out light bulbs are replaced before your SitePro home inspection.
  • Ensure that all smoke detectors are working.
  • If a home's attic is not ventilated, it needs to be.
  • A professional should clean the chimney, fireplace or wood stove and provide the buyer with a copy of the cleaning record.
  • Plumbing fixtures, including toilet, tub, shower, and sinks, should be in proper working order. Any leaks must be fixed, and caulking should be done around plumbing fixtures if necessary.
  • A sump pump should be operating properly.
  • GFCI testingAll GFCI receptacles need to be tested to make sure they are operating correctly. 
  • Masonry walls in the basement need to be sealed. (yes there are some 
  • basements in Florida.
  • Make sure that vapor barriers, if applicable, are installed in crawl spacesand that the crawl spaces are dry. Moisture needs to be removed, as moisture levels in wood should be below 18 percent to prevent dry rot and mildew.
  • Remove any paints, solvents, gas, and similar materials from crawl spaces, basements, attics, porches, etc. Access to the attic, crawl space, heating system, garage, and other areas the SitePro home inspector will check must be clear, with nothing blocking the way.
  • If the house is vacant, all utilities must be turned on, including gas, water, electric, water heater, furnace, air conditioning, and breakers in the main panel.
Sellers who follow these steps should have no problem with a SiteP home inspection, making themselves, their Realtor®, and their prospective buyers very happy.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Home Smoke Alarm Basics



NFPA's Sharon Gamache discusses the latest information on types of smoke alarms you need, their placement and special features. Working smoke alarms give you early warning to help you escape a fire.

Learn more about smoke alarms at http://www.nfpa.org/smokealarms

Tuesday, January 1, 2013