Mike's Home Inspector Blog
Michael Burfitt, CPI
Mike's Home Inspector Blog
Michael Burfitt, CPI
Nine Ladies Dancing Around Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a silent killer as it binds to hemoglobin in the blood, cutting off the ability of the blood to carry oxygen. This byproduct of incomplete combustion is undetectable by our senses—it's odorless, tasteless, and invisible. Every home that utilizes a combustion system faces the risk of CO leaking into living areas. However, merely installing a CO detector isn't enough. These detectors lose their accuracy over time and typically function effectively for only 5 to 7 years. Sadly, many CO (and smoke) detectors I encounter are near the end of their lifespan. Therefore, it's imperative to check and replace them before it's too late.
Ten Lords-a-Leaping to Window and Door Checks
When it comes to home energy efficiency, windows play a crucial role. Upgrading them can indeed save energy and money, but the substantial cost of new windows might not always be cost-effective in the long run. During inspections, we pay attention to signs like difficult-to-open windows and uneven doors. While these issues can signal structural concerns, more often, they result from normal settling and can be rectified by re-shimming. Foggy windows are another common issue, signaling failed seals that require prompt attention. Remember that window issues aren't restricted to older installations: this one was approximately 5 years old!
Eleven Pipers Piping Pest Prevention
Pest problems are common in many homes, with mice and rats being frequent issues in our city and province. Preventing their entry is key. By sealing holes, managing nearby vegetation, and removing potential food sources, homeowners can significantly reduce the likelihood of infestations.
Twelve Drummers Drumming Up Home Safety
And, of course, never underestimate the value of a professional home inspector! On behalf of the entire Inside Edge family, we wish you the very best this holiday season. Have a safe and Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and we look forward to seeing you in 2024!
Five Golden Rings of Electrical Safety
Electrical is probably the most important part of an inspection: while there is no doubt there is an issue when there is a waterfall in the kitchen or a large horizontal crack in the foundation, electrical issues can be difficult to detect by the untrained eye. Here are five that I always look for:
Single strand aluminum branch circuits: Not all aluminum wiring is problematic; it's commonly used for electrical conduction due to its cost-effectiveness and lightweight nature. I also look for Knob & Tube (K&T) although it has largely been removed and replaced over the years.
Inspection of Electrical Receptacles: Checking a representative sample for missing grounds, reverse polarity, and signs of arcing, such as burn marks.
Reporting on the status of Ground Fault (GFCI) and Arc Fault (AFCI) Circuit interrupters: Building and Electrical Codes evolve; retroactive changes are rare. In spite of this, I always suggest updating electrical systems to the latest standards.
Assessing DIY Modifications: Any signs of makeshift "improvements," like the use of extension cords for permanent power supply, are noted.
System Overview: Assessing the entire system for adequate amperage, checking for undersized wires (oversizing is acceptable but wasteful), and ensuring no reasons exist for the power utility and insurance company to refuse service to the home.
Six Geese-a-Laying Insulation Tips
In older homes, insulation sometimes becomes an issue due to DIY attempts. While modern homes adhere to updated building codes, some retrofits fall short. For instance, in one inspection of an older brick house, the added insulation was carelessly installed, defeating its purpose. Remember, proper insulation traps air in pockets; compressing it renders it ineffective. Wet fiberglass insulation? Only fit for the trash. More insulation is beneficial, but not when compressed to squeeze more in.
Seven Swans-a-Swimming in Plumbing
Plumbing installations by professionals are generally sound, but ongoing maintenance is crucial. Homeowners need to realize that sinks and drains aren't infinite voids. Disposing of inappropriate materials like baby wipes or bacon grease can lead to plumbing issues brewing for years, suddenly surfacing as household disasters.
Eight Maids-a-Milking Moisture Concerns
Moisture is the ultimate nemesis of homes, fostering rot, mould, and significant damage. The following proactive measures are key:
Stay tuned next week when we conclude this Christmas theme blog and look at four more inspection items.
December marks the onset of yet another festive season! As we immerse ourselves in buying gifts, planning holiday gatherings, and cherishing time with loved ones, we also find ourselves in a quieter phase for home inspections – giving us ample opportunity to get into the holiday spirit! In the essence of a beloved Christmas carol, here's the first part of my '12 Days of Christmas' list, tailored for home inspectors:
A Partridge in a Safe Tree
Ah, the delightful aroma of a Christmas tree: one of my favourite smells of the Holidays! While the scent evokes fond memories, it's essential to ensure safety. Dry trees pose major fire risks, as tragically witnessed in recent incidents in Nova Scotia. Regularly watering the tree is crucial, alongside using indoor-rated lights (modern LEDs are generally versatile for indoor and outdoor use due to their efficiency). Extra caution is needed when young children or pets are around.
Two Turtle Doves Nesting
The warmth of a fireplace on Christmas morning is unmatched, reminiscent of childhood joy. However, proper control is vital. Scheduling an annual inspection by a qualified technician for both chimney and fireplace is imperative. A cracked firebox, as seen in a recent inspection, can be a significant hazard leading to potential fires. Creosote buildup remains a serious concern and a leading cause of house fires. Compliance with insurance guidelines regarding fireplace use is also essential.
Three French Hens’ HVAC Checks
Modern HVAC systems offer reliability and comfort but aren't maintenance-free. Regularly changing furnace filters, cleaning HRV/ERV units and bath fans biannually, and ensuring thorough yearly cleaning of dryer vents is crucial. Lint accumulation from clothes is highly flammable, posing fire risks. Beyond functionality checks, inspections identify potential issues that could escalate in the future.
Four Calling Birds' Roof Inspection
Roof integrity often determines whether leaks are present or imminent. Late winter/early spring brings a surge in calls about roof leaks. Residential roofs, contrary to common belief, aren't waterproof; they're designed to efficiently shed water. Melting snow, however, poses challenges. Small leaks can persist undetected for months, so regularly peeking into the attic and promptly calling for repairs or replacement when roof shingles blow off is crucial.
Stay tuned for part two next week, featuring additional essential home inspection tips!