Home Inspections & Underground Oil Tanks – A Ticking Time Bomb

 

Many buyers see a gas fired furnace or boiler in the basement of home that they are interested in and their assumption is that the house has always had natural gas as an energy source. Not necessarily in older homes !  Many housing developments were constructed before the availability of natural gas in the area and heating oil supplied from underground storage tanks was their first choice.

The average life expectancy of a steel underground tank is approximately 25 years depending on the surrounding soil conditions. Leaking tanks and their clean-up costs can run into the tens of thousands of dollars and home owners are responsible for those costs !

Home inspectors are trained to look for signs of prior underground tanks such as, old steel filler pipes and vent pipes in the lawn or cut-off copper tubing entering the basement foundation wall below grade. The absence of these indicators doesn’t mean that you’re worries are over as sometimes basements have been transformed into finished rooms obscuring our views of  the concrete block foundation.

If the sellers have had an underground oil tank properly cleaned & filled or if they have had one removed you can ask for a letter of no further action from the local municipality . If no information is available your home inspector should recommend that a qualified contractor perform a metal sweep of the property surrounding the home to insure that no leaking oil storage tanks lurk beneath the surface !

Bob Godwin         Eastern Home Inspections         (800) 333-2783       www.inspectnj.com

Concrete slabs

Concrete slab inspections are an important part of the home inspection service. Some houses are built on a monolithic slab with no expansion joints. Some houses Have adjacent patios,driveways and sidewalks. Concrete can become cracked,heaved, settled or deteriorated for various reasons. If the concrete is poured in adverse weather conditions, shrinkage cracks may occur. Heaving or settling can be a more serious issue. Heaved walks due to tree roots can create an uneven surface and  possible trip hazard(safety issue). Settled patios or sidewalks next to homes can create a negative grade and areas of water ponding.  Ponding water may enter bsmts/crawl spaces. In more severe cases foundation damage may occur. I inspected a condo here in NJ last month and found the newer pergo floor heaved not too far from the exterior patio which was also settled/heaved. Most concrete damage can be repaired by minor repointing with a masonry mix. In more severe cases the services of a qualified masonry contractor would be needed for repair/replacement.

Mike Burla

http://www.inspectnj.com/

 

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Step cracks in brick veneer

On a recent home inspection in Barnegate  I observered step cracking along the left side wall of the home. The cracks had been sealed at least 2x before and have appeared to re open.

The cause for chronic settling like this one I believed was the rear of the home had an 8 foot grade slope that created a walk out basement in the rear.

However, the change in grade appears to have pulled the brick back and the pressure caused a tear perpendicular to the stress point.  As home inspectors in NJ we are required to address such issues and call for repairs by qualified contractors.

call us at 800-229-3472  or  www.inspectnj.com

 

Should I Have a Pre-Sale Home Inspection ?

Suberban House

My short answer is yes, if you don’t want to be surprised by what your buyer’s home inspection report will reveal and on what you might have to negotiate a lower price on the sale of your home. Most home owners  believe that their homes are in relatively good condition and they are absolutely shocked by what is revealed by a thorough home inspection. When you live in a house for a long period of time and issues arise gradually we tend to overlook or minimize them. I assure you potential buyers will not overlook anything !

During our Pre-Sale Inspections we home inspectors look for plumbing issues such as leaky faucets & dripping drain pipes beneath sinks as well as the bigger issues such as old rusty galvanized drain pipes that could scare a novice buyer.

On the electrical side of things we’ll sometimes  identify aluminum wiring issues to an unaware owner. Your potential buyer’s do not like to see missing GFCI safety outlets at bathroom, kitchen & exterior locations – We will make you aware of any shortcomings !

We will evaluate your roof’s overall condition and more importantly, look closely for any torn shingles, loose flashing or cracked rubber boot covers over waste vent pipes that are potential points of leakage. This will allow you to make minor repairs and diffuse a potential buyer’s request for exorbitant $$$ at closing for roof repairs !

HVAC  systems will be inspected. Any receipts that you have for annual maintenance on these systems should be displayed prominently so that potential buyers recognize that you are the type of owner who takes care of their prize possession, this house.

Grading & drainage around the entire perimeter of the house will be closely evaluated as a part of a pre-sale home inspection because they are often overlooked and they are primary contributors to significant basement problems such as damaged foundations and mold.

With the information derived from a $ 385 Pre-Sale Home Inspection from Eastern Home Inspections you can often expect to save several thousand dollars in negotiations with your home’s buyer and their attorney. You have the leverage – not the buyer !

Bob Godwin,             www.inspectnj.com              (800) 333-2783

 

 

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Termite damage

There are two main concerns  when buying a home and having a home inspection. Don’t get me wrong there are many things that can and do go wrong but the two that seem to keep showing up are water problems and termites.

On a recent inspection in Hamilton, NJ I found major termite damage to the sub floor. This damage extended past the sill plate, box beam and wood flooring. This damage pictured above is going to cost almost $3,000 to repair. Most times the homeowners will have to repair the damage in order to sell the home.   By Rick Pettit

You can schedule your inspection by calling  800-229-3472 or visit us on the web at www.inspectnj.com 

 

home with mag glass

Flipped house purchases

A “Flip” is a house that has been purchases by an investor, renovated and then immediately put up for sale by the investor (at a profit ,of course). If you are considering purchasing a flipped house it is very important to have a home inspection by a New Jersey licensed home inspector.

A “flipped” house will be pleasing to look at- fresh paint, new carpet, renovated bathroom- kitchen etc.. Possibly it will also have a new roof ,new heating system etc.  It is the things that you don’t often think about that may have been overlooked. I recently did  a home inspection in Burlington County on a flipped home and found a significant leak in the sewer pipe in the crawl space.  It had been leaking for a while and may also have compromised the foundation wall. On the same house I also noted active knob and tube wiring running up from the basement behind the walls.  It is difficult to obtain homeowners insurance when there is active knob and tube wiring in a home.

If you are considering purchasing a “flip” I encourage you to contact Eastern Home Inspections for a complete inspection of the property we are available 7 days a week

call 800-229-3472  or visit us on the web  www.inspectnj.com

Jackson pictures of slab and carpet March 2014 015

Efflorescence on block wall from leak

Recently on a home inspection in Middletown I discovered mineral deposits (effloresence) on the rear block wall in the garage. It was on no other sections. I thought this strange. I went inside and found a burst pipe in the laundry room. The water had since been shut off and the area cleaned up.

I pulled back carpets on the slab to determine if there were signs of mold. There were none. Who ever cleaned it up did a good job. I thought the carpets should still be replaced though. They were 10 years old and stained.

visit us at www.inspectnj.com   or call us at 800-229-3472

Rick Pettit    Eastern Home Inspections of NJ

Garage Door Safety

Garage Door Eye

An overhead garage door is the single largest & heaviest moving object in a home. They can move downward at the touch of a button  causing serious injuries as well as death ( especially to small children) .

Older home’s garage door openers do not measure up to current safety standards.  Since 1993 the Consumer Product Safety Commission – CPSC – has required all garage door openers to have an electric eye aligned with the door opening and mounted 4 to 6 inches off of the floor. This is designed to stop a door’s downward movement immediately when an object crosses it’s path.

Many older systems reverse only after contact ( sometimes jarring !) OR  do not reverse under any circumstances !

If the house’s system  lacks an electric eye to protect it’s inhabitants your home inspector will point that out to you as a safety concern and will urge you to upgrade to a modern garage door opener.

As a further precaution, you should mount all control buttons at least 8′ from the door and at a height where small children cannot reach them.

Bob Godwin – Eastern Home Inspections – (800) 333-2783       www.inspectnj.com

Aluminum Wiring

Aluminum wiring was installed in residential homes and apt. bldgs. between 1967 and 1972. I still look for it in houses up to 1974. The govt. allowed aluminum to be installed as an electrical conductor due to the rising costs of copper during the viet nam war era. Aluminum is a softer metal than copper. Every switch and outlet have a copper terminal screw for L1(black wire) and the neutral(white wire) attaches to the  aluminum screw. Where you have an aluminum conductor/wire connected to a copper terminal screw is where the problem arises. Aluminum wiring can get soft and create heat where there is disimilar metal.  Outlet/switches can get hot and cause fires. Home inspectors here in New Jersey see this type of wiring often. If aluminum wiring is observed in electric panels, further evaluation by a qualified licensed elctrician will be needed for upgrade. The switches/outlets would be replaced to adapt to the aluminumwiring.   Mike Burla

 http://www.inspectnj.com/             1 800 333 2783

Moisture issues in Basements

Although moisture problems that plague basements have many causes and often multiple causes, today I am going to touch on one of the simplest and most effective remedies available to homeowners.

A basement is  a hole in the ground that water wants to enter and there is an ongoing fight that all homeowners must wage against it. Saturation of the soil that is adjacent to the basement foundation is a leading cause of water related issues that range from just a little musty odor to full blown water on the concrete floor.

More then half of the homes that I inspect have downspouts that empty directly onto soil right at the foundation or they have a woefully short concrete splash-block that accomplishes almost nothing.

What is needed on the ends of all downspouts is a long corrugated plastic extension that deposits rainwater > 6 feet from the foundation, more is possible. This will be part of a comprehensive plan to move rainwater away from the basement and limit the need for expensive retrofitting of the basement with a ”french ” drain and sump pump system.

www.inspectnj.com           Downspout Ext. (800) 333-2783 to schedule an inspection