Category Archives: A Home Inspectors view

Sump Pump

Should You Replace A Sump Pump That’s Working Perfectly Fine ?

Your basement or crawl space sump pump is designed to remove water that builds up around your basement or foundation.  Your sump pump activates when it’s float rises activating a built-in micro-switch.  Over time and thousands of on-off cycles this micro-switch wears out rendering the pump useless. Unexpected basement flooding is often what follows.

We recommend that you replace your sump pump every 5 to 6 years even if it appears to be working perfectly because you never know when it’s micro-switch is going to fail ! Although this seems like an unnecessary expense, it is small when compared with the damage caused by a flooded basement or crawl space.

Another thing you should consider is a back-up system in the event of a power failure. This can be a battery type back-up pump or a longer running hydraulic back-up system that relies on ” city ” water pressure to run a separate pump as long as necessary.

Bob Godwin           Eastern Home Inspections     Sump Pump (800) 333-2783

Visit us at www.inspectnj.com for more information.

Repairing Defects & Safety Issues After You Close On Your Home. Where to Begin ?

Home Improvement

After you receive your home inspection report and the sellers respond with a list of what items will be fixed before your closing date you’ll probably be left with a number of upgrades and repairs that you will want to make on your new home.

First, prioritize your list , placing any items that pose a possible danger to you and your family at the top of your list followed by mere upgrades or cosmetic issues. Make sure that any contractor you call for an estimate has a N.J. Home Improvement License – check it with the department of consumer affairs. Contact the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints.

First impressions in any business are important, How a contractor presents himself and maintains his truck are often good indicators of how he’ll take care of you and your job !

Beware of low bids ! A bid far lower then the others indicates that the contractor isn’t experienced enough to know the actual cost of the job or that he may never intend to finish the job. That’s a nightmare !

Plan to put only 20% up front. In general, don’t choose a contractor who asks for more then 20% up front. While some projects like custom made kitchen cabinets require a larger initial payment to cover the contractor in case you pull out of the deal, it doesn’t apply to commodity items such as roofing  & lumber which a legitimate contractor will usually purchase on his account with at least 30 days to pay.

Finally, BEWARE OF CASH ONLY JOBS !  This raises a big red flag. Not only does paying in cash limit your financial recourse if problems arise, the contractor is likely not operating a legitimate business which includes paying for liability and workman’s compensation insurance. Look elsewhere for a professional to perform your work.

One more item, New Jersey Licensed Home Inspectors are not allowed to promote , recommend or advise their clients on selecting contractors. It’s a clear conflict of interest, once we’ve provided you with a list of defects !

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

Solar Panels

New Jersey Home Inspections & Solar Panels

Licensed home inspectors in the state of New Jersey are not required under Standards of Practice of the N.J.A.C. 13:40 – 15.16   to inspect photo-voltaic ( solar ) panels. They require specialized knowledge and test equipment that goes beyond the scope of your home inspection. The system’s remaining useful life, estimated annual savings and physical connection to the roof of the house should be evaluated by a licensed electrician who has a good working background in solar installations, before the close of your inspection period.

That being said they are generally a good thing inasmuch as they reduce or eliminate monthly electrical bills and they reduce the amount of carbon based fuels that need to be burned for your energy needs.

There are usually two distinctly different ways in which home owner’s save money. First is direct ownership in which the home owner lays out all of the installation cost up front but reaps all of the power for himself. Second, is a leasing agreement in which the homeowner agrees to allow a third party to use his roof, bear all of the installation costs and reap all of the financial benefits. In this scenario the homeowner is guaranteed a lower monthly electric rate for a defined period of time. You need to find out which type of installation the home you’re looking at has.

Many questions arise such as: In the event of a power outage will I have electricity ? In most installations the answer is no, as a safety feature prevents a home’s solar system from back-feeding deadly voltage into the power grid when power company linemen may be trying to restore power a block away  !

Remember to do your homework and familiarize yourself with solar power before making your final decision to purchase a house.

  www.inspectnj.com                                                            (800) 333-2783

 

 

Deck Collapse

Deck Inspections in New Jersey

Decks appear to be simple structures often added to a house by a homeowner but they are far more complicated then they appear. They have to be designed to carry their live loads as well as lateral loads imposed on them.

Your New Jersey licensed home inspector will be looking at several key components of the deck that is attached to the home that you are planning to purchase.

Since the majority of deck failures occur where the ledger board attaches to the house, he will pay particular attention to what type of connectors were uses and how they are spaced. We are looking to see that 1/2” diameter galvanized bolts w/washers are inserted through the ledger board in a staggered pattern. He will also be looking to see if flashing material was installed between the deck’s ledger & the house’s band joist to limit wet rot conditions.

One key components that he will be looking at are the ”footings ” beneath the outer pressure treated wood support columns. They should be concrete and extend down below the frost line ( which is difficult to verify without excavating soil ). Pressure treated wood columns should connect above grade to their concrete footings with special galvanized attachments to minimize wood rotting conditions.

Other important connection points are the galvanized floor joist hangars. He’ll be looking to see if there is excessive corrosion as well as to see that the deck builder used the manufacturer’s recommended nails ( and not roofing nails or deck screws as we commonly find ) to fasten them to the structural members on the underside of the deck.

Another critical area on most decks is the surrounding safety rail system. Your inspector will be checking, among other things, it’s ability to resist lateral loads and the spacing design of the vertical balusters to insure that toddlers cannot fall through.

If the home’s deck requires a licensed contractor to evaluate the home inspector’s recommended repairs then this should take place before the close of your inspection period as defined by your contract.

www.inspectnj.com                                              (800) 333-2783

HPIM5766

Exterior insulated finishing system (Synthetic Stucco-EIFS)

If you are considering purchasing a home with stucco siding  a home inspection is a must. Synthetic stucco can cause serious and expensive problems if it is compromised or not installed properly. Moisture may seep beneath it and will cause mold and rot problems. Stucco siding comes in a couple of forms. Mortar based  will sound solid and hard when it is pounded on -Synthetic will sound hollow beneath when pounded. Synthetic stucco is a popular siding these days.

When inspecting it a good home inspector will try to determine if it is installed correctly. Are all joints at windows and doors sealed? Does the siding extend beneath grade level? Are there kick out flashings installed? How has it worn over time. Are there cracks in it? Is there discoloration in it? Is it buckled or bowed?

If any of the above conditions exist a further  inspection using thermal imaging or probing for moisture by a qualified inspector will(should) be recommended by your home inspector. A prospective buyer should follow this recommendation or find out how expensive it can be owning a home.

Having a home inspection by a licensed New Jersey home inspector serving all of south Jersey is an inexpensive alternative.

Call Eastern Home Inspections Serving Burlington,Camden,Gloucester,Salem Counties

Stab-Lock Panel

Federal Pacific Circuit Breaker Panel Issue Arises As A Result Of A Home Inspection

New Jersey home buyers should be alerted by their home inspection report about the presence of a Federal Pacific – Stab-Lok circuit breaker panel. It’s presence creates a significant safety issue for the new owner of the home.

The concern for this electrical hazard is that the individual circuit breakers may not ” break ” when called on therefore a homeowner is at risk for a serious shock or even a house fire !

The recommendation by Eastern Home Inspections is that prior to the close of your inspection period, the home buyer have a licensed electrician evaluate the panel in question. Most electricians, in my experience, will recommend replacement of the panel .

To get more information or book an inspection call (800) 333-2783.  www.inspectnj.com Stab-Lock Panel