Monday, April 29, 2013

Harboring History in Pensacola

In Florida's panhandle, vibrant Pensacola stakes its claim as the oldest European settlement in the United States

Pensacola, its anchorage first admired by the Spanish 450 years ago. In 1686, Spanish navigator Juan Jordán described Pensacola's bay as "the best I have ever seen." (Guillen Photography/Travel / USA / Florida / Alamy)

It's late afternoon in Gulf Islands National Seashore. Along some 20 miles of pristine ocean-front beaches here in northwest Florida, the water is crystal clear; one can wade into gentle surf to peer down at starfish and sand dollars. Pelicans and sea gulls wheel across the sky. Dolphins pop up above the waves, their sharp dorsal fins silhouetted against a horizon where the turquoise Gulf of Mexico meets an iridescent blue sky.

The unspoiled shoreline is virtually unaltered from the time Spanish explorers first made landfall here nearly five centuries ago. Yet this marine wilderness lies only a few minutes' drive from the center of Pensacola, the lively and historic city of 56,000 at the westernmost tip of the Florida panhandle on the border with Alabama. Pensacola boasts a surprisingly little-known past: it is the site of the nation's oldest European settlement.

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By Donovan Webster
Smithsonian magazine, May 2009

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Why a Home Inspection Is Worth It

Buying a home is likely the biggest purchase most of us will ever make. With all the assorted costs involved in the process it might be tempting to skip having a home inspection but there are many reasons why an inspection is important and can save you much more money in the long-run. In hot housing markets some agents advise buyers to make "clean" offers without conditions to make bids more attractive for sellers but this is a potential recipe for disaster. Sure, it could be frustrating to find out after spending for inspection that a house isn't up to code but it's better than uncovering costly problems after the fact.

The Home Inspector's Role

A home inspector will walk through a property with you to help you identify what needs fixing immediately and the nature and cost of maintenance issues down the road. They can point out major items that may have been completed without a permit or aren't up to code that will become your responsibility after purchase. Sometimes there are glaring deal-breakers with leaks or structural problems that are not apparent to the untrained eye. Then there are a lot of little things that can add up, such as cracks or gaps near the windows, for which a home inspector can provide helpful tips to fix. Making your new home more energy efficient could pay for the home inspection cost in just a few months. They have home inspection training to evaluate the condition of plumbing, heating and cooling systems and can help diagnose the state of the overall structure. These decisions can have ramifications in the eventual cost of insurance coverage and help you plan ahead to prevent larger costs in the future.

Health Issues

It isn't simply for monetary reasons that home inspection is popular - the health of you and your family is a top priority. Old plumbing can affect the water safety and if the water is hard it may need an ongoing expense of chemical treatment. It is recommended to bring a carbon monoxide detector if there is a basement furnace, particularly an older one. Duct and ventilation systems may need cleaning. See if you can spot a seam in the ceiling - a sign that a load bearing wall may have been removed and a huge potential health hazard. Mold can be a serious problem lurking in hidden spaces that won't stop until the source of moisture is fixed. Better to address this issue before needing to visit someone with healthcare training. Be sure to look behind pictures, curtains and other items that can obstruct inspection and consider scheduling the inspector during the night as well as day. Nighttime lighting can reveal uneven surfaces and other structural and lighting concerns that aren't apparent in daytime. As you can see, the temporary inconvenience of scheduling a home inspection can bring significant peace of mind to ensure your potential dream home isn't a nightmare in disguise.

Visit Academy of Learning College for more information on home inspection and office administration courses.

By M. Patrick Quinn

Patrick Quinn is a Copywriter at Higher Education Marketing, a leading web marketing firm specializing in Google Analytics, Education Lead Generation, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing, and Pay Per Click Marketing, among other web marketing services and tools.

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Contact Van Hibberts at SitePro at: 850-934-6800

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bug Zappers

A bug zapper is a popular exterior appliance installed by a homeowner or food handler to attempt localized control of flying insect populations. Its name comes from the characteristic "zap" sound produced when an insect is electrocuted. Around homes, they are primarily used to kill biting (female) mosquitoes, which create itchy bumps and can transmit the West Nile Virus or encephalitis, malaria and yellow fever. While Popular Mechanics produced a sketch of a bug zapper as early as 1911, it wasn't until 1934 that parasitology professor Dr. W.B. Herms introduced the electronic insect killer that became the model for all future bug zappers.

How They Work

 Bug zappers typically consist of the following components:
  •     the housing, which is a plastic or grounded metal exterior casing that contains the zapper’s parts. It may be shaped liked a lantern, a cylinder or a rectangular cube. A grid design may be incorporated to prevent children and animals from touching the electrified grids inside the device;
  •     a light source, which is usually fluorescent-type, such as mercury, neon or ultraviolet light;
  •     wire grids or screens, which are electrified layers of wire mesh that surround the light source. These grids are separated by a tiny gap roughly the size of a typical insect (several millimeters); and
  •     the transformer, which is the device that electrifies the wire mesh, changing the 120-volt, electrical-line voltage to 2,000 volts or more.
Bug zappers work by luring flying insects with fluorescent (typically ultraviolet) light into a deadly electrical current. Because the flower patterns that attract insects are better revealed in ultraviolet light, many flying insects that feed on flowers will be drawn to the bug zapper. Before they reach the light, however, they will come into contact with the wire mesh, completing the electrical circuit and disintegrating.

Bug zappers can kill many thousands of flying insects nightly. Some models incorporate a tray designed to collect scattered insect parts, although many models allow the debris to fall to the ground below.

Effective or Not?

Despite their widespread use, numerous studies have called into question the effectiveness and safety of bug zappers. Two of the more pressing issues are the following:
  •     Female (biting) mosquitoes and other biting insects are more attracted to the carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor in the breath of animals than to ultraviolet light. As a consequence, standard bug zappers typically kill large numbers of harmless and beneficial insects, such as beetles and fireflies, and ultimately fail to reduce the number of the types of insects that prompt the purchase of a bug zapper in the first place. In fact, one study found that just 0.22% of the insects killed by bug zappers were biting insects, while nearly half of those killed were harmless, non-biting aquatic insects from nearby rivers and streams. The study even found “the probability of being bitten by mosquitoes increases in the vicinity of these traps,” perhaps because the biting insects are actually lured by the ultraviolet light but become distracted by the far more attractive human prey nearby. Some newer bug zappers address this issue by incorporating a CO2 container at the bottom of the lamp. Other designs attract mosquitoes into a netting device on the outside of the bug zapper that traps the mosquito, and eventually the insect dies of dehydration.
  •     The electrocuted insects are blasted into a fine mist that contains insect parts as well as unkilled bacteria and viruses up to 7 feet (2.1 m) from the device. The air surrounding the zapper may become contaminated with campylobacter jejuni, staphylococci, serratia marcescens, enterococci, and other potentially dangerous organisms commonly carried by flies. For this reason, a bug zapper should never be placed over a food preparation area or in a hospital or any other sterile environment to prevent the potential spread of disease. Children should not be allowed to play beneath an operating bug zapper. Models that contain a tray to catch insect debris are less of a health risk.

Tips for Homeowners

Bug zappers do not present more of a fire hazard than other electrical devices. Most units have been UL-tested, but, as with any outdoor electrical appliance, care must be taken to ensure that electrical cords do not become frayed or wet.  They should also be connected to GFCI-protected receptacles.

Inspectors may pass on the following mosquito-control techniques to concerned homeowners:

    Do not allow water to accumulate anywhere in your yard for more than a few days. Eliminate sources of standing water, especially old tires, flower pots, clogged gutters, tin cans or buckets. Fill in or drain ruts, puddles and other low places in the yard. Even holes in trees from rot and hollow stumps can collect water that can harbor mosquitoes. Cover trash containers to keep rainwater out, and drill holes in the bottom of trash containers to allow any water to drain. Repair leaky pipes and outdoor faucets.

 Bug zappers should be cleaned out at least annually to prevent the accumulation of bug parts on the wire mesh, which will decrease the effectiveness of the unit, and may lead to illness if the bug parts contaminate foods, drink or items used by people or pets.
  •     Keep grass cut short and any shrubbery well-trimmed, as adult mosquitoes use these places to rest and hide.
  •     Encourage the presence of bats by installing a bat house. These winged mammals pose little danger to humans, and a single brown bat can consume up to 600 mosquitoes per hour.
  •     Install a fan. Mosquitoes and other flying insects will avoid moving air.
  •     Wear long-sleeve shirts and pants. The pesticide permethrin may be applied to clothing to protect against mosquitoes and ticks. Beware that while permethrin is relatively safe for people and dogs, it is toxic to cats.
In summary, bug zappers are a common yet controversial means of controlling biting insect populations around the home, and caution should be taken in their selection and use.

by Nick Gromicko

From Bug Zappers - Int'l Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)

Contact Van Hibberts at SitePro at: 850-934-6800

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Central Humidifiers

Central Humidifier

Humidifiers are devices that humidify air so that building occupants are comfortable. Central humidifiers are hard-wired into a house’s plumbing and forced-air heating systems.

What is humidity?

Humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air. “Relative humidity” signifies the amount of moisture in the air relative to the maximum amount of water the air can contain before it becomes saturated. This maximum moisture count is related to air temperature in that the hotter the air is, the more moisture it can hold. For instance, if indoor air temperature drops, relative humidity will increase.

How do central air humidifiers work?

Central air humidifiers are integrated into the forced-air heating system so that they humidify air while it is being heated. The water that is used by the device is pumped automatically into the humidifier from household plumbing, unlike portable humidifiers, which require the user to periodically supply water to the device. Humidifiers are available in various designs, each of which turns liquid water into water vapor, which is then vented into the house at an adjustable rate.

Why humidify air?

Certain airborne pathogens, such as those that cause the flu, circulate easier in dry air than in moist air. Moist air also seems to soothe irritated, inflamed airways. For someone with a cold and thick nasal secretions, a humidifier can help thin out the secretions and make breathing easier.

Indoor air that is too dry can also cause the following problems:
  •     damage to musical instruments, such as pianos, guitars and violins;
  •     dry skin;
  •     peeling wallpaper;
  •     static electricity, which can damage sensitive electrical equipment, cause hair to stick up, and can be painful or annoying; and
  •     cracks in wood furniture, floors, cabinets and paint.

Central Humidifier Dangers

Humidifiers can cause various diseases. The young, elderly and infirm may be particularly at risk to contamination from airborne pollutants such as bacteria and fungi. These can grow in humidifiers and get into the air by way of the vapor where it can be breathed in. Some of the more common diseases and pathogens transmitted by humidifiers are:
  •     Legionnaires’ Disease. Health problems caused by this disease range from flu-like symptoms to serious infections. This problem is generally more prevalent with portable humidifiers because they draw standing water from a tank in which bacteria and fungi can grow;
  •     thermophilic actinomycetes. These bacteria thrive at temperatures of 113° to 140° F and can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which is an inflammation of the lungs; and 
  •     “humidifier fever,” which is a mysterious and short-lived, flu-like illness marked by fever, headache, chills and malaise, but without prominent pulmonary symptoms. It normally subsides within 24 hours without residual effects.

Other problems associated with humidifiers include:
  •     accumulation of white dust from minerals in the water. These minerals may be released in the mist from the humidifier and settle as fine white dust that may be small enough to enter the lungs. The health effects of this dust depend on the types and amounts of dissolved minerals. It is unclear whether these minerals cause any serious health problems;
  •     moisture damage due to condensation. Condensed water from over-humidified air will appear on the interior surfaces of windows and other relatively cool surfaces. Excessive moisture on windows can damage windowpanes and walls, but a more serious issue is caused when moisture collects on the inner surfaces of exterior walls. Moisture there can ruin insulation and rot the wall, and cause peeling, cracking or blistering of the paint; and
  •     accumulation of mold. This organic substance grows readily in moist environments, such as a home moistened by an over-worked humidifier. Mold can be hazardous to people with compromised immune systems.

Designs and Maintenance Humidistat

  •     drum-type humidifier:  has a rotating spongy surface that absorbs water from a tray. Air from the central heating system blows through the sponge, vaporizing the absorbed water. The drum type requires care and maintenance because mold and impurities can collect in the water tray. According to some manufacturers' instructions, this tray should be rinsed annually, although it usually helps to clean it several times per heating season.
  •      flow-through or “trickle” humidifier:  a higher quality though more expensive unit than the drum-type, which allows fresh water to trickle into an aluminum panel. Air blows through the panel and forces the water to evaporate into the air stream. Excess water exits the panel into a drain tube. This design requires little maintenance because the draining water has a “self-cleaning” effect and, unlike the drum-type humidifier, there is no stagnant water.

Other tips that InterNACHI inspectors can pass on to their clients:

  •     If equipped with a damper, it should be closed in the summer and opened in the winter. The damper may appear as a knob that can be set to “summer” or “winter” setting, or it may be a piece of metal that can be inserted to cover the duct opening.
  •     The humidifier is controlled by a humidistat, which must be adjusted daily. Some new models do this automatically, although most require daily attention from building occupants. The humidistat should contain a chart that can be used to identify the proper setting based on the outdoor temperature. If this adjustment is not performed, condensation will likely collect on cool surfaces and potentially lead to mold or wood rot. Many homeowners do not know that this calibration is necessary.
  •     The furnace might need to be checked for rust. Some humidifiers are installed inside the plenum of the furnace, which can be damaged by rust if the humidifier leaks.
  •     Central humidifiers may have a solid core that should be replaced each year. The manufacturer’s instructions should be consulted regarding this replacement.

In summary, central humidifiers are used to humidify air to make it more comfortable, but they can cause health problems and building damage if they are not properly maintained.

by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard
From Central Humidifiers - Int'l Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)

Contact Van Hibberts at SitePro at: 850-934-6800

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

How To Properly Maintain Your Windows

The windows of your home are important in keeping moisture and temperature in check within the house. There are a few things every homeowner should know.

 Here are a few tips to keep your windows in top condition:

  •     Be on the lookout for mildew or peeling paint. These can be signs of moisture problems.
  •     On the outside, the portion of the window that is connected to the home's brick or siding should be caulked all the way around.
  •     Some storm windows have a slot or hole ¼" in diameter or smaller. These are called "weep holes" and are present to allow water to drain outside and prevent mildew and rot. Sometimes these holes are caulked.  They shouldn't be because they allow moisture to escape.
  •     Check the caulk and paint condition of all windows, especially South facing ones. The exposure to the sun can increase deterioration of these materials.
  •     Be aware that peeling paint on older homes may contain lead, which may be a health concern.
By: Van Hibberts, CMI
Contact SitePro at: 850-934-6800
You can visit for more information

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Heat Pump

Instead of having a heater and an air conditioner sit idle for most of the year, you could have a heat pump installed.

For climates with moderate heating and cooling needs, heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners. Like your refrigerator, heat pumps use electricity to move heat from a cool space into a warm space, making the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer.

The efficiency of most air-source heat pumps as a heat source drops dramatically at low temperatures, generally making them unsuitable for cold climates, although there are systems that can overcome that problem.

In milder climates, a heat pump can produce as much as 4 times the energy that it consumes by its ability to move air from the outside to inside and vice versa.If you are interested in finding out more, visit the U.S. Dept of Energy and talk to a reputable installation company.

By: Van Hibberts, CMI
Contact SitePro at: 850-934-6800
You can visit for more information

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sewer - Septic Inspections

Keeping private sewer/septic systems well-maintained is important.

Water that flows down any drain in the home is wastewater. This is water that must be cleaned before being returned to the environment.

If you live where a municipal system is in place, wastewater will leave your home through a series of pipes below the street. Using gravity, or pumps, the water flows through larger and larger pipes until it reaches a treatment facility to be properly cleaned.

If you do not live in an area where a sewer treatment plant is available, you may have a private septic system consisting of a large underground tank and absorption field on your property. Wastewater flows out of the house into the tank where bacteria work to break down the solids. Liquid wastewater is eventually released into a drain field, a series of perforated pipes that allow the water to be released into the soil. Microorganisms in the soil finish the cleaning process.

When purchasing a home with a septic system, you may want to consider having the system inspected. An inspector will attempt to locate the septic tank, drain field and any well on the property and visually examine accessible parts of the system for evidence of problems. Because much of the system is housed underground, the inspector may also perform a dye test or other tests. During a dye test, the tank is hydraulically loaded. The inspector will then check for evidence of problems. The inspector needs to recheck the site in 48 hours to look for evidence of dye around the septic tank and drain field. Following the second inspection, a written report and recommendation is provided.

Septic systems should be pumped and serviced periodically by a certified technician to remove solids and help microorganisms clean the wastewater more effectively. Prior to selling the home, you may want to have the system pumped and serviced.

By: Van Hibberts, CMI
Contact SitePro at: 850-934-6800
You can visit for more information

Monday, April 15, 2013

Kitchen Faucet Repair

Faucets are responsible to control the release of water. It is not only a functional tool but also gives a different appeal to the look of the kitchen. A damaged kitchen faucet can be frustrating and you would want to get it repaired as soon as possible.

For kitchen faucet repair, the first thing you need to think about is whether you want to do the repair yourself or need to call a professional for the same. If you have all the necessary tools like wrench, pliers and screw diver, and you know the basics about repairing faucet, then you can take the task in your own hands.

Steps for Kitchen Faucet Repair:

The first thing you need to do after leakage starts is to shut the water supply before you remove the faucet. You can either shut the valve in the sink or the main valve of your home. After that ensure that the water in the water line is drained and also the air pressure s released. This will also help in saving a lot of water that might have been wasted due to the leakage.

You can then start to dissemble the faucet parts.

Open the lever and remover fragments, if any from the faucet.

Examine the washer and replace it with a new one. Also replace screws, in case they are old and damaged too. The new ones you buy should be durable and of good quality.

The next step will be the installation of washer and tighten it with the screws. After that reassemble the faucet and make sure that it's been properly fixed.

Lubricate the thread of the stem. You can use lubricants like grease for the purpose.

The last step will be to turn on the water supply and open the faucet to ensure that the leakage has been properly repaired.

If you have all the necessary tools and equipments, then it is not that difficult to fix a faucet on your own. You can also see what brand of faucet is there in your kitchen and look online for the list of parts. You can then order the same faucet online. Make sure to buy durable faucets which will help to ensure that they don't get damaged in short duration. It will help you save both time and money. If you feel that fixing the faucet will be a difficult task for you, you can take the services of a local plumber to fix things for you.

The information related to single handle kitchen faucet repair can be found online. Kitchen faucet repair is a task that needs to be completed as soon as possible.

By Abhishek Kumar Khandelwal
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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lightning Strikes!

By: Van Hibberts      

A lightning strike to a house can blow out portions of walls and wiring, set fires, and destroy expensive electrical equipment such as computers and televisions. Even thunderstorms that drop less than an inch of rain can herald significant property damage, or even danger to inhabitants and pets.

Protection against lightning strikes is often overlooked because only about 2 percent of people actually die from lightning strikes, and damage is usually contained to one property. However, lightning can be very damaging because it can reach 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can carry up to a billion volts.

About 100,000 thunderstorms occur in the U.S. each year, and though it affects all parts of the country, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Colorado report more deaths and injuries from lightning than other areas.

Here are some very interesting financial facts offered by the insurance industry about the cost of lightning damage:

  •     In 2008 there were 246,200 paid insurance claims with insured losses of $1.065 billion due to lightning strikes. The average cost per claim was $4,324. Source: Insurance Information Institute, NY, press release, 6/22/09.    
  • Each year 3 to 4 percent of all insurance claims are due to lightning.  

With statistics like these, it makes sense that home inspectors check to make sure that property isn’t exposed to unnecessary lightening damage. Helping to protect against lightening means they need to understand the changing technology behind these protection systems. Lightning protection needs to encompass not only the building, but also the electrical system and appliances in that building. The lightning protection system does not prevent lightning from striking; it channels the electricity through non-conducting parts of a building discharging it into the ground.

 SitePro Home inspectors check structures and their lightning protection systems to ensure that the following criteria are met:

  •     A whole-building surge protector is installed and connected to incoming utility lines like cable, electrical and phone, and is working properly. The incoming lines should all be bonded to the same grounding point.
  •     A surge arrester is properly installed.
  •     The structure’s electrical system is properly grounded.
  •     All electrical circuits have arc fault circuit interrupters installed.

SitePro Home inspectors also check for signs of lightning damage that has occurred in the past. Since lightning is unpredictable there is no set rules about the damage that can occur. Damage from each lightning strike is different, some with minor damage and some with drastic damage.

The first thing a SitePro inspector who suspects lightning damage does is to determine where the strike entered the electrical system and then try to follow the paths it took through the structure. To do this all SitePro inspectors understand the normal wiring of a residence. In many cases appliances like microwave ovens, stoves, dishwashers and phones were exposed to damage even if they were not in use at the time of the lightning strike.

 SitePro Home inspectors also check the main service and grounding systems, and recommend replacement of all damaged equipment and also “all equipment” that was exposed during the strike. To accomplish this, the inspector must go through each room and list everything that was plugged into the receptacles, then have the homeowner operate each item.

 SitePro Home inspectors also check the attic, basement and surrounding property for damage. For instance, the SitePro inspectors may find the following clues that lightning has damaged a property:

  •     Electrical Issues – Especially an overload caused by lightening, including flickering lights, blown circuits, electrical equipment failure, and melted outlets.
  •     Visual inspection of the electrical box and appliances – showing blown circuits, and carbon marks on the walls.
  •     Visual signs of electrical strikes- such as ripped up ground next to metal, charred nearby trees, blown out windows, dislodged tiles, and cracked ceiling, etc.

If all the safety conditions are met and lightning has not previously damaged the home, the SitePro home inspector who diligently checked has probably prevented thousands of dollars of damage from a potential lightning strike, or repairs from a previous lightning strike.

Contact SitePro at: 850-934-6800

By: Van Hibberts, CMI

Find us at:

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
Florida-State Certified Master Home Inspector Lic. #HI89
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
203(k) FHA/HUD Consultant #A0900
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
NACHI #10071802

362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561
850.934.6800  (Office)
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)

"Looking Beyond The Obvious"

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Using a “Seller Inspection” to Sell Your Home

In most real estate transactions, the buyer pays for any home inspection that is requested. This is usually done after an offer is made, and the sale of the house is contingent upon a favorable inspection report. Frequently, the inspection finds items that require negotiation between multiple parties, delays closing, and sometimes, results in deals falling apart.

When this occurs, realtors are disappointed, buyers have to start over, and in some cases, sellers wish home inspectors had never been invented. If this process sounds slightly less exhilarating than getting unexpected mail from the IRS, keep reading. Fortunately for the seller, this situation could have been avoided.

An alternative to this unattractive scenario is to have your home inspected before selling it. As soon as the decision has been made to

sell, have your home inspected. There are numerous advantages to this-especially to the seller:

*You can schedule the inspection at your convenience

*You can assist during the in- spection-something not usually done

*You will be alerted you to any items of immediate concern, such as roof or gas leaks.

The report will reveal any problems ahead of time which can:

*Make your home show better *Gives you time to make repairs and shop for contractors

*Permits you to attach repair estimates or paid invoices to the report

*Removes over-inflated buyer procured estimates from future negotiations.

A seller inspection report will provide a clean, illustrated home inspection report that can be used as a marketing tool. A seller inspection is the ultimate gesture of forthrightness on your part. It lightens negotiations and 11-hour re-negotiations. A report provides you with full-disclosure protection from future legal claims

These are just a few of the numerous benefits to a pre-sale home inspection. In my experience, this process would have saved multiple deals from collapse.

Obviously, the number one deterrent to having this done is the cost involved. However, in most cases, the amount of money saved by my clients is exponentially higher than the cost of the inspection. It is simply a wise investment and could be the key to selling your home quickly and for market value.

See more at:

by: Van Hibberts

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cockroach Inspection

Cockroaches are one of the most commonly encountered household pests. Homeowners and inspectors can learn about ways to eliminate these insects and the conditions that encourage their infestation.
Cockroach infestation is a common household problem

Cockroaches have a broad, flattened body and a relatively small head that covers their mandibles and other mouthparts. They have six legs, large ocelli (simple eyes), and a pair of long, flexible antennae. Although winged, they are not adept fliers. The best-known varieties are the American cockroach (1.2 inches long), the German and Asian cockroaches (0.59 inches long), the Oriental cockroach (0.98 inches long), and the brown-banded cockroach (0.55 inches long).

Facts and Figures
  • The world's heaviest cockroach is the Australian giant burrowing cockroach, which can weigh more than 30 grams and reach 3½ inches in length.
  • While cockroaches could withstand six to 15 times as much radiation exposure as humans, the popular belief that they will “inherit the Earth” in the wake of nuclear war is largely undeserved; other insects, such as fruit flies, have even better resistance against radiation than cockroaches.
  • While it has been known for some time that cockroaches and termites are related, it wasn't until 2007 that it was proven that termites are a kind of "social cockroach," having actually evolved from cockroaches. Similarities include specialized casings that enclose their eggs, perforations in the internal parts of their heads, and similarities among their young. There are significant differences between these pests, however; termites pose a greater danger to wood, and they form huge, complex societies, while cockroaches are solitary, generalized insects with few special adaptations.
  • Some species of cockroaches can survive for months without food and subsist on nothing but the glue on the back of a postage stamp, and even their own feces. Experiments have revealed that they can go without air for 45 minutes and recover after being submerged under water for half an hour.
  • Cockroaches are prolific breeders and can produce several thousand offspring in a year, once they become established in a home. They are normally introduced on clothing, shopping bags and furniture, and they can also simply wander in from the outdoors.
Cockroaches are known to spread diseases such as salmonella, food poisoning and dysentery, primarily through contact with their feces and defensive secretions. They also transport dangerous microbes, a particular problem in hospitals. Their skin, which is discarded through periodic molting, can become airborne and trigger severe asthmatic reactions in prone individuals. Incredibly, cockroaches have even been found to be second only to house dust as the worst allergen affecting people, according to the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture. Besides these physical ailments, cockroaches emit an unpleasant odor during swarming and mating, and they can keep a building's occupants awake at night with their incessant hissing and, in the case of some cockroach species, chirping.

InterNACHI inspectors should not be surprised to find evidence of cockroaches in messy buildings, as the insects thrive in dirty environmenCommon household cockroachests. No buildings are completely immune to cockroach infestation, however, as they will be attracted to even the smallest amounts of food deposits. They prefer to feed on decaying grease, sugar and other organic matter, as well as inanimate, starchy food sources such as glue, wallpaper and even book bindings.

Pepper-like specs in kitchen cupboards are an indication of cockroach infestation, as is the observation of adult cockroaches or their egg sacs in hard-to-reach locations, such as cracks and crevices in kitchen cabinets, drains, and behind dishwashers and refrigerators. The entire kitchen area should be inspected, especially under sinks, in cabinet hinge areas, drawers, refrigeration gaskets, dishwashers, stoves and other cooking appliances. Also check crawlspaces, bathrooms and other dark, moist areas where food sources may be present.

Tips that inspectors can pass on to homeowners:
  • Place boric acid in areas of cockroach activity. Boric acid can maintain an infestation once under control, but pyrethrin should be used first and the whole structure bug-bombed. 
  • Pyrethrin should be used first, and after the population is under control place boric acid wherever needed.
  • Place bait stations containing hydramethylnon or fipronil in areas of termite activity. At night, homeowners can sneak into the kitchen and turn on the lights. If cockroaches scurry for cover, observe where they run and position traps accordingly.
  • Keep all food in sealed containers, use trash cans that have tight-fitting lids, and do not leave pet food out overnight.
  • Clean the kitchen regularly, and wipe moisture from the kitchen sink before going to bed at night. 
  • Vacuum frequently.
  • Repair dripping taps and leaky pipes, broken roof tiles, and any other condition that might allow moisture to enter areas where cockroaches can establish harborage.
  • Seal off all entry points into the house, such as cracks around baseboards, pipes, windows, cabinets, doors and crevices in bathrooms with copper mesh or steel wool and caulk or putty.
  • Keep lights on at night. Although it will consume additional electricity, cockroaches will avoid lit areas. For the same reason, restaurant owners sometimes leave lights on around dumpsters.
  • If cockroach infestation persists, contact a qualified exterminator.
In summary, cockroaches are hardy, disease-carrying household pests that can be controlled by maintaining a clean home and eliminating sources of moisture intrusion.

Article by Nick Gromicko, courtesy of

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dryer Vent Safety

Clothes dryers evaporate the water from wet clothing by blowing hot air past them while they tumble inside a spinning drum. Heat is provided by an electrical heating element or gas burner. Some heavy garment loads can contain more than a gallon of water which, during the drying process, will become airborne water vapor and leave the dryer and home through an exhaust duct (more commonly known as a dryer vent).

A vent that exhausts moist air to the home's exterior has a number of requirements:

  1. It should be connected. The connection is usually behind the dryer but may be beneath it. Look carefully to make sure it’s actually connected.
  2. It should not be restricted. Dryer vents are often made from flexible plastic or metal duct, which may be easily kinked or crushed where they exit the dryer and enter the wall or floor. This is often a problem since dryers tend to be tucked away into small areas with little room to work. Vent hardware is available which is designed to turn 90° in a limited space without restricting the flow of exhaust air. Restrictions should be noted in the inspector's report. Airflow restrictions are a potential fire hazard.
  3. One of the reasons that restrictions are a potential fire hazard is that, along with water vapor evaporated out of wet clothes, the exhaust stream carries lint – highly flammable particles of clothing made of cotton and polyester. Lint can accumulate in an exhaust duct, reducing the dryer’s ability to expel heated water vapor, which then accumulates as heat energy within the machine. As the dryer overheats, mechanical failures can trigger sparks, which can cause lint trapped in the dryer vent to burst into flames. This condition can cause the whole house to burst into flames. Fires generally originate within the dryer but spread by escaping through the ventilation duct, incinerating trapped lint, and following its path into the building wall.
InterNACHI believes that house fires caused by dryers are far more common than are generally believed, a fact that can be appreciated upon reviewing statistics from the National Fire Protection Agency. Fires caused by dryers in 2005 were responsible for approximately 13,775 house fires, 418 injuries, 15 deaths, and $196 million in property damage. Most of these incidents occur in residences and are the result of improper lint cleanup and maintenance. Fortunately, these fires are very easy to prevent.

The recommendations outlined below reflect International Residential Code (IRC) SECTION M1502 CLOTHES DRYER EXHAUST guidelines:
M1502.5 Duct construction.
Exhaust ducts shall be constructed of minimum 0.016-inch-thick (0.4 mm) rigid metal ducts, having smooth interior surfaces, with joints running in the direction of air flow. Exhaust ducts shall not be connected with sheet-metal screws or fastening means which extend into the duct.
This means that the flexible, ribbed vents used in the past should no longer be used. They should be noted as a potential fire hazard if observed during an inspection.
M1502.6 Duct length.
The maximum length of a clothes dryer exhaust duct shall not exceed 25 feet (7,620 mm) from the dryer location to the wall or roof termination. The maximum length of the duct shall be reduced 2.5 feet (762 mm) for each 45-degree (0.8 rad) bend, and 5 feet (1,524 mm) for each 90-degree (1.6 rad) bend. The maximum length of the exhaust duct does not include the transition duct.
This means that vents should also be as straight as possible and cannot be longer than 25 feet. Any 90-degree turns in the vent reduce this 25-foot number by 5 feet, since these turns restrict airflow.

A couple of exceptions exist:
  1. The IRC will defer to the manufacturer’s instruction, so if the manufacturer’s recommendation permits a longer exhaust vent, that’s acceptable. An inspector probably won’t have the manufacturer’s recommendations, and even if they do, confirming compliance with them exceeds the scope of a General Home Inspection.
  2. The IRC will allow large radius bends to be installed to reduce restrictions at turns, but confirming compliance requires performing engineering calculation in accordance with the ASHRAE Fundamentals Handbook, which definitely lies beyond the scope of a General Home Inspection.
M1502.2 Duct termination.
Exhaust ducts shall terminate on the outside of the building or shall be in accordance with the dryer manufacturer’s installation instructions. Exhaust ducts shall terminate not less than 3 feet (914 mm) in any direction from openings into buildings. Exhaust duct terminations shall be equipped with a backdraft damper. Screens shall not be installed at the duct termination.
Inspectors will see many dryer vents terminate in crawlspaces or attics where they deposit moisture, which can encourage the growth of mold, wood decay, or other material problems. Sometimes they will terminate just beneath attic ventilators. This is a defective installation. They must terminate at the exterior and away from a door or window. Also, screens may be present at the duct termination and can accumulate lint and should be noted as improper. 
M1502.3 Duct size.
The diameter of the exhaust duct shall be as required by the clothes dryer’s listing and the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
Look for the exhaust duct size on the data plate.
M1502.4 Transition ducts.
Transition ducts shall not be concealed within construction. Flexible transition ducts used to connect the dryer to the exhaust duct system shall be limited to single lengths not to exceed 8 feet (2438 mm), and shall be listed and labeled in accordance with UL 2158A.
In general, an inspector will not know specific manufacturer’s recommendations or local applicable codes and will not be able to confirm the dryer vent's compliance to them, but will be able to point out issues that may need to be corrected.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Good Signs That Pensacola Housing Market is Improving

"Mortgage loan activity signals recovery, credit unions in good shape, and International Paper is awarding grants."

Read the whole article in Florida Home Building Association magazine by Carlton Proctor, of the Pensacola News Journal at:

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!

Request an Inspection
Or Call 850-934-6800
To Schedule Your Inspection Today!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Verification Inspections for Roofs

Citizens Insurance now requires Roof Certification inspections or proof of roof replacement upon renewal of homes of certain ages.

All roofs must be in good condition with no damage or visible signs of leaks and a remaining life of 8+ years to be eligible for coverage with Citizens. In addition, specific “age of roof” requirements have been implemented. Roof eligibility does NOT apply to HW-4 and HW-6 policies. Shown below is better clarification of carrier details.

Age Requirements for Roof System
Both residential and manufactured homes over 25 years of age with fiberglass shingles and home over 50 years of age with other roof covering types must have the roof replaced to be eligible for coverage. To assist policyholders, Citizens Insurance has created a Roof Condition Certification Form (CIT RCF-1 1108) which may be used to certify the eligibility of the roof system. Permits from a municipality are also acceptable, so long as the replacement was completed by a licensed roofing contractor. SitePro is authorized by the State of Florida to provide roof certification forms to residents for discounts allowed by Florida Citizens Insurance.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Benefits of a 203K Mortgage

Mike Young shares some of the virtues of the 203k type of mortgage. Call Van Hibberts today with any questions that you may have and how it can benefit you at 850-934-6800.