Toilets get a lot of use, in fact, a person will on average flush the toilet around 2500 times a year. Naturally, that amount is multiplied in large households. It comes as no surprise, then, that your home's toilets will require attention from time to time. As home inspectors, we perform a lot of checks to make sure the toilet is working properly but, how can you the homeowner know if a toilet is functioning correctly?
When you flush the toilet, take note of how long it takes the tank to fill back up. If it seems to be really slow, this could be a sign that the toilet is in need of maintenance. The same can be said if the toilet takes an abnormally long time to flush.
The toilet bowl is another area that can become damaged. From time to time give it a thorough check to make sure there are no chips or cracks forming in the porcelain. If a home inspector finds damage like this in a toilet bowl, it is listed as faulty.
Constant running water is another common issue with toilets that often go unnoticed. Over time, however, this can become a problem that not only wastes a lot of water but also wastes a lot of money. Plus, if your home has a private well, it could be damaging the pump.
From this brief look at toilet maintenance, we can clearly see how important it is to fix any apparently minor issues as this can lead to greater, more costly problems down the line.
Electricity has become something we all depend on very heavily so, if the power goes out for any reason, we can easily find ourselves in utter chaos. For those who depend on a constant flow of electricity to their homes for health reasons, however, a power outage can become a serious concern. To prevent a complete lack of power to the home, many people opt to purchase a portable generator. These can be very useful machines to own as they do not require a special permit to own or operate and can be transported easily, making them also ideal for camping, etc.
Proper safety measures should be taken when using a portable generator as they can be dangerous if not used the way they are intended. An example of this is being careful not to overload the generator which can happen easily during a power outage if you are trying to keep all appliances running as normal. Make sure you only use it for appliances that are necessary for the basic running of the home. Its also important to note, especially if someone relies on electricity for health reasons, that portable generators are meant only for corded appliances and not for those that are hard-wired to the home.
Never keep a portable generator running inside the house as they produce carbon monoxide which can be extremely dangerous. While the generator is running it will become hot so care should be taken when working around it and most especially when putting gasoline into it.
We can clearly see the benefits of owning a portable generator but, its also important to be aware of the dangers associated with operating one.
When home inspectors test for mold they generally carry out a visual inspection and surface sampling. An air sample can also be taken in conjunction with those tests to diagnose other sources of mold that haven’t been detected.
How does this work? Because it is not possible to see mold spores with the naked eye an air sample is taken and sent to a laboratory to be analyzed. The results of this analysis will not only reveal if mold is in your home or not but will also show the type of mold that is present as well as its severity.
What parts of the home should air samples be taken? Several areas benefit from air samplings such as places where mold is already visible, areas with moisture intrusion or water damage and parts of the home where the air has a musty smell which can be a sign of mold growth.
Factors that can affect air sample reading. While air sampling is being carried out its best to close all windows and doors and turn off indoor-outdoor air exchangers. Weather conditions can also affect the accuracy of the test. For example, when there are severe thunderstorms or extremely high winds it is not the best time to take an indoor air sample. Changes in air pressure will cause mold spore levels to vary which would also affect those levels indoors.
The benefits of air sampling. Tests will be done before and after mold remediation to be certain that the mold has been completely removed. We can see then that air sampling for mold, when done along with other mold testing is a good way to check mold spore levels in your home.
For many avid gardeners, the greenhouse is a place to spend many happy hours, however, like the rest of your property, a greenhouse requires maintenance. If it is not properly taken care of, it could quickly turn into a hazardous environment. So, how can you take care of your greenhouse?
Firstly, it's important to consider the kinds of items you might store in a greenhouse such as pesticides, chemicals and garden tools, etc. All of which may be dangerous if children were to get their hands on them, so make sure the greenhouse has a lock on it, especially if there are small children in the home.
Although greenhouses are designed to retain heat and light, ventilation is still necessary. If the air in your greenhouse starts to become too humid and stagnant, it could easily create an environment for fungi to grow which would be a hazard. Good ventilation is also vital in keeping the greenhouse from becoming too hot which can kill the plants inside it.
Through the cold months, you may need to use an electric heater in your greenhouse. Make sure to use a heater specifically intended for greenhouses so that it does not become a fire risk. Any other electrical items that you use in there should also be suitable to use outside and come with waterproof covers. Keep them unplugged when you are not using them and store them safely.
Sometimes a greenhouse will form a leak. If this happens, fix it as soon as possible to avoid an excessive accumulation of moisture, fungi or other hazardous pathogens. It will also help in preventing insects.
Its always good to take time out every so often and perform an inspection of your greenhouse, so that it remains a safe place to work in.
Many house fire related deaths are reported every year in the United States. What is even more distressing is that some of these deaths could have been prevented if there were sufficient, working, smoke or carbon monoxide detectors in the home. The question we should ask ourselves, then, is would the smoke detectors in my home save lives in the event of a house fire?
Firstly, its good to think about how many smoke detectors you should have in your home. While this will vary depending on the homes size, in general you should have one on every livable floor of the house which should include the garage and basement. It can also be beneficial to have one in each bedroom.
Even when you have enough smoke detectors its very important to check them all every month to make sure they are working and do not require new batteries. Never disconnect a smoke or carbon monoxide detector, even if you burn food in the kitchen as it is very easy to forget to reconnect it and a disconnected smoke alarm is useless to you.
Another important measure to take in keeping your household safe is to perform a periodic fire drill so that, in the event of a fire, everyone will know exactly what to do. Make sure smoke detectors are loud and distinct enough so that everyone would hear them and know that it is the alarm, even if they are sleeping. Yes, its good to ask yourself whether the smoke detectors in your home would save lives in the event of a house fire.
Getting rid of the odor left behind by tobacco is a challenging task. If you are about to move into a home where the previous occupant was a smoker you might be wondering how you can remove the ill effects that nicotine has left in the place. While you may well need to employ a variety of different methods to eliminate it completely, we thought we would offer a few tobacco odor removal suggestions.
Initially you will want the home to get as much fresh air into it as possible so leave windows and doors open for as long as you can. Its also good to place odor absorbers throughout the home. You don’t simply want to mask the smell but get rid of it, some good natural odor absorbers are coffee grounds, citrus peel and baking soda.
Nicotine produces a horrible brown oily residue that tends to adhere to most surfaces. Start with replacing all HVAC or air conditioner filters. Another good thing to do at first is replace or clean any light bulbs left behind, otherwise, when turned on these will heat up and diffuse the bad odor throughout the home. Take down any blinds that have been left behind and, if you wish to keep them, soak them in a tub, give a good scrub and then hang to dry. For hard surfaces it’s good to clean them with detergent containing ammonia which works well for removing nicotine (not good on wooden surfaces though)
Carpeting is one area where nicotine is very difficult to completely remove. If you want a fresh home, it may be best to just replace it. Before laying new carpet, however, be sure that the underneath flooring is well scrubbed and thoroughly dry.
You will most likely wish to freshen up your new home with a coat of paint. But, before you go ahead, find out what type of paint works for homes with nicotine problems as you may find that horrible brown residue seeping back through the paint.
Planning to buy a home for the first time can often feel like a daunting prospect, after all, it is one of the biggest investments you can make. Its important, then, to start with the right people helping you and finding a real estate agent is one of the first steps. Here are a few suggestions to help you find a real estate agent that will fit your needs:
There are many great real estate agents out there so you may feel it doesn’t matter who you decide on but, just because someone comes with a lot of experience this does not mean they are experts in every type of real estate. To illustrate, a realtor may be an expert in selling high end luxury housing but have little experience in finding low budget fixer uppers so, its important to find someone skilled at finding the type of home you require.
Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to before deciding who to go with. Include questions such as: How much experience do you have with the type of properties I’m looking for? What makes you different from other realtors? Etc. Ask for specific examples instead of accepting general answers. Some other helpful information to find out would be if the real estate agent owns property of their own. This might help with their ability to guide you through all the steps of home buying and they may be able to offer good advice. You may also want to ask them whether they work full time or part time in real estate. A full-time realtor may be a little more up to date with the property market as well as new rules and regulations.
As we can see, it is very important to find a real estate agent who fits your individual needs and budget, someone who can guide you through the home buying process.
You may have been told that having a radon test performed in your home would be a good idea and this is true but, maybe you are unsure about what radon is or why a home needs to be tested for it. If it is found, what then? Should you be concerned about radon?
To help answer those questions, please enjoy this short video which will help you have a better understanding of what radon is and why it can be hazardous if found at high levels. Radon is not detectable by sight or smell which means radon could be present in your home without you even knowing it. If you have some concerns that radon could be an issue in your home, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Buying a home for the first time is a big decision and requires a lot of planning. One crucial aspect of home buying is applying for a loan, without this, it’s likely all hopes of owning your own place will be crushed. To find out if you are a financially responsible person, a lender will generally look to your credit report. This report contains information about whether you have debt and if you have a history of paying bills on time etc. A lender can determine if you should be approved for the loan based on the report. Clearly, it’s a good idea to work at maintaining a good credit report but, what are some ways of doing so?
Have you acquired a variety of different credit cards over the years? Go through them and look if there are any you no longer use, then call the credit cards company to cancel them. Too many credit cards may not reflect well when applying for a loan as it can give the lender the idea that you allow yourself too much available credit and will easily put yourself in economic peril. On the other hand, if you keep your longest held credit cards, this will show a longer history of credit which can work in your favor.
Were you aware that a late payment can show up on your credit report? It can be easy to do if we do not remember the payment due date so, to remedy this, set up an automatic payment plan that will at least cover the minimum due. This way you will not only work at maintaining a good credit report but also eliminate those expensive late payment fees
Why not request a copy of your credit report so that you can view it before a lender does? You are allowed a free copy every year so take full advantage of it. A credit report, on occasion, contains an error which could affect your loan application. Obtaining a copy beforehand will allow you to look through it and, if there are any errors, have them fixed.
When we are young we don’t always think about maintaining a good credit score but, doing so will help increase our chance of loan approval in the future.
There are a number of reasons why sewer gases can enter a home. Perhaps one of the most common reasons is that plumbing fixtures and traps start to dry out. Plumbing traps have water barriers to stop sewer gases from escaping back into the home. If this dries out, there is no barrier to prevent those gases from entering the home. You could find this happening with periods of dry weather or with bathrooms that are not used often.
Some other reasons for sewer gas leaks are cracks forming in plumbing drains, foundations and ventilation pipes. If plumbing vents have been placed too close to air intakes, this can also cause sewer gases to enter the home. You might even find that the smell of sewer gas in the home is caused simply by the air flow around the building.
While these are some of the reasons why you might be smelling sewer gas in your home, is it something you should be concerned about? Depending on the levels of sewer gas in your home, this can cause a number of dangers. There is a danger of fire, explosion or even risk of asphyxiation from sewer gases displacing the homes oxygen. There is also the risk of hydrogen sulfide poisoning which could be lethal. Then there is the smell which is difficult to cope with. If you are worried about sewer gas in your house, its best to have the cause of the problem identified by a professional. The health and well-being of the homes occupants always comes first.
Devereaux Van Dyne, Certified Professional Home Inspector