Inspecting a home in the San Juan Islands, I recently discovered at least one (1) foot of water throughout the crawl space! This, of course, rendered the crawl space inaccessible to inspection. Standing water in crawl spaces, regardless of season, puts the building’s structure at risk of settlement, water and insect damage. If you have standing water conditions in your crawl space, you should have them addressed promptly; the longer you wait, the more expensive the repair becomes.
Tim Hance discovered a “free-spinning” Jacuzzi tub faucet at a recent inspection on Orcas Island. If your faucet handle does this, typically the valve needs replacement; a plumbing contractor may very well advise simply replacing both faucets, especially if they’re older.
Tim Hance discovered deteriorated OSB eave (soffit) sheathing at a recent inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. In this case, the lack of a metal drip-edge flashing detail at the edge of OSB sheathing (under the gutter) appears to be the contributing factor. Amazingly, installing such a drip-edge flashing detail isn’t required. If you intend to re-roof your home, I recommend having the roofing contractor install drip edge flashing everywhere, e.g., at all edges of the roof. This will help prevent potential water damage. Here, this owner will need to replace a fairly significant amount of sheathing, together with some roof work, which might prove expensive.
Selecting a new heating system can be complex. However, if you do your homework and talk to licensed heating/cooling professionals, a new system can make your home more comfortable and reduce energy costs.
- Usually it is more energy- and cost-efficient to replace systems older than about 15 years.
- The system you choose will depend on local climate, home size, amount of insulation, and the heating/cooling usage patterns.
- Look for an ENERGY STAR® label.
- Furnaces are rated by annual fuel-utilization efficiency (AFUE). High-efficiency units are rated above 90 percent.
- If choosing an air-source heat pump, look for one with a SEER of 13 or greater and a heating season performance factor (HSPF) of 7 or more.
Tim Hance with All Islands Home Inspections discovers improperly installed roof coverings at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island. Without sufficient eave overlap, the underlying fascia trim, sheathing, and rafters are vulnerable to water and insect damage. Water and insect damage were presenting in many areas of this particular home. A qualified roofing contractor will likely advise the installation of a metal drip-edge flashing detail, installed under the roof coverings and overlapping the wood fascia board to help prevent water and insect damage; a roofing contractor may also want to improve the roof covering overlap/overhang as well.
The burners on an electric range get dirty with caked-on messes, often after a single use. The best way to keep your burners clean is to clean them after every use. Messes are much easier to remove when they are fresh. Make sure the burners have sufficiently cooled before attempting to clean. Use a kitchen towel to wipe the cool burners clean of any spills after use. Rubbing alcohol will remove caked-on messes and sanitize. For more difficult messes, soak a kitchen towel with rubbing alcohol and set it on top of the stain for an hour or two. This will soften the mess and make it easier to wipe away. For a detailed, soap-and-soda approach to clean the burners, see this Ehow article.
While you are going about your winter preparation tasks this September, you might be in the mood to tackle that big hole in the drywall that you haven’t gotten around to yet. The DIY Network has easy, step-by-step instructions on how to repair seriously damaged drywall that will show you how to: cut out the damaged area, cut out the patch, attach cleats to wall studs, fit the patch into cleats and studs, apply fiberglass tape to the seams and finish the wall surface.
Tim Hance with All Islands Home Inspections recently discovered a hood vent that was discharging directly into the upper wall cabinet! Vent ducting, discharging to the exterior, should be installed to help prevent elevated moisture conditions and grease accumulation within this wall cabinet. Can you imagine what this wall cabinet will look like after cooking for a while?
Here’s some great information about Home Maintenance that can go a long way to ensuring a clean home inspection.
ManageMyLife.com has some suggestions for home maintenance:
- Kitchen, bathroom: Check under your sinks for signs of leaks from supply pipes and waste pipes. Also check for rust on the bottom of enameled steel sinks and water damage to the countertop.
- Structure and exterior: Check your home’s exterior wood for paint or wood stain needs.
- Vinyl siding: Assess vinyl siding for cleaning needs. It requires less maintenance than most other sidings, but it still needs occasional cleaning.
- Plumbing: Getting cold showers? The sediment in your water heater might be lowering your water temperature and the amount of available water. Flush sediment from your water heater.
- Electrical: Inspect your outdoor electric wiring. While you’re outdoors during warm weather, take a few moments to inspect your outdoor electric outlets, lighting and wiring.
- For more complete details and step-by-step guides see the article.
Here are some tactics that you can start using today:
• Use recycled paper for your inspection reports and marketing materials, and make sure you use a logo that tells your customers so. “Printed on 90% post-consumer waste” (or whatever applies) can provide your prospective clients with a positive heads-up that you’re environmentally conscious. Recycled paper and cardstock are also generally cheaper, which can lower your costs for office supplies. Also, if you must print out something and it’s for internal use only, use the reverse side of paper that you would otherwise throw away.
• Recycle your printer cartridges. Most printer service and retail outlets will accept these and reward you with a discount on your next purchase.
• Get organized. Maximize your time by minimizing your driving trips around town. Shop online, when possible. You’ll save wear and tear on your vehicle, and you’ll spare the air of your emissions.
• Pay your bills online. This decreases what you spend on postage, and cuts down on the mail you receive, much of which winds up in the trash anyway, such as promotional inserts and window envelopes.
• If it’s cold in your office, add a layer of clothing, rather than turn up the heat. Likewise, if it’s warm, open a window instead of turning on the A/C. If ventilation to the outdoors is not practical, consider running the A/C intermittently rather than continuously throughout the day. Be sure to use fans to assist with air movement, as well as shades to block the sunlight through windows.
• If you don’t already have a low-flow toilet at your office, place a brick in the tank of your toilet to save on water used for flushes.
• Find ways to let natural light into your workspace to cut down on the use of electric lights. Where practical, change your incandescent bulbs to energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and T8 fluorescent bulbs, which can reduce your lighting energy costs by up to 75%.
• Use cups, plates and silverware in your office kitchen, rather than paper products. If you buy disposable products, consider purchasing the newer biodegradable plastics made of corn. Also, purchase paper supplies in bulk, which will reduce your shopping trips, as well as your expenses.
• When upgrading tools and equipment, donate what you no longer use, if selling is impractical. Many thrift stores, including outlets run by Habitat for Humanity, will gladly accept a worn tape measure, flashlight, and even work boots. Just make sure that items such as ladders are safe before passing them along.
• Many office supply stores that sell tech, such as Staples, OfficeMax and Kinko’s, will accept your outmoded cell phones, computers and printers to dispose of at bulk savings to them, or they will refurbish them for resale or donation. Tech hardware disposed of in landfills is among the most toxic sources of soil and groundwater contamination today because of the chemicals contained in their components, and the results of the biochemical breakdown of their materials. If you don’t want to pay a fee to dispose of these items responsibly, take them to a recycling center or retail outlet that will gladly take them off your hands.
• Before hauling something out to the Dumpster, consider re-purposing it. An old door can be converted into a work table, and cork and foamboard can be used as a message board. Old t-shirts make handy rags for the office and work truck.
• Make sure your computers, printers and copiers are set to energy-saving or sleep mode when not in use for extended periods. Also, consider routinely unplugging electrical items at the end of the day, since coffee makers, lamps and power strips that are turned off but remain plugged in continue to draw current.
• Before making a purchase, look online at websites such as Craigslist and Freecycle to see if you can find what you need for less than new, or even free. Several different categories on such sites offer building supplies and materials, tools, and office equipment and products at second-hand prices for sometimes brand new items, which can save you money that you can put toward more meaningful purchases.
• If you must buy new office furniture, consider buying chairs, desks, tables and bookcases made from wood that has been reclaimed or that originates from sustainably harvested forests. Look for certifications on wood products from the Forestry Stewardship Council and the Rainforest Alliance. In addition to sparing living trees, reclaimed and sustainably harvested wood has the advantage of being free of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which is better for your health, as well as the planet’s.