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

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Vapor barriers are effective in keeping moisture out.

As home inspectors we know that moisture coming up from a dirt crawl space into the sub floor of an average home can carry with it gallons of moisture. Moisture that will be deposited on the sills, joists, main beams and sub floor.

On a recent inspection in Hamilton NJ I saw a vapor barrier that was a bit unusual. It did not stop at the crawls edge. It went up the side of the foundation and was attached to the sill plate.

This barrier will keep moisture from building on the sub floor expressed as mold, rot, white rot and cubicle rot. If the conditions are not reversed the damage can mount to the thousands.

This is a picture of a vapor barrier the way it should be installed.

Call us for your next inspection 800-989-3872 or visit us on the web at www.pinnaclehomeinspections.com

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Roof inspections

 

For Inspectors

This is important. After reviewing some reports I have found that some inspectors are writing up roofs that are over 20 years old and write, “Budget to replace this aging roof. Shingles are cupping and curling.” Then place it in the “concern” column.

 Keep in mind that roofs are not like furnaces in the sence that when we see an aging furnace that is operating “Satisfactory” it can go in the “Concern” section and not the “Repair” because it is still operating. However, we all know that is not the case with roofs. Roofs are replaced when they get old and not held on till they fail.

 So, remember to put such roofs in the repair section and not concern.

www.inspectnj.com   800-229-3472

Make sure utilities are on

When you sign a contract to purchase a home, you will need to have a home inspection. If a house is vacant/unoccupied the main utilites; water,gas and electric may be turned off or winterized. This impedes the inspection process. Me being and ASHI certified state licensed home inspector here in New Jersey, these systems are to be inspected. It is important to confirm with the realtor(s), bank or owner that these systems are in operation. If you take the 1/2 day off from work for the inspection and I tell you I can only do a patial inspection and have to come back(for a fee) it would be upsetting. If you are purchasing a house that is vacant, make sure all utilities are on prior to doing a home inspection.            Mike Burla

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

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

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Water damage at front entry found on home inspection

It is not unusual for water to settle around a stoop leading into a home. Often the pad will settle slightly towards the home and water will wick in.  Recently in Whippany NJ I discovered extensive water rot conditions to the front entry of a single family home.

Home Inspectors are trained to tell the difference between water rot and termite infestation on a home inspection.

Water rot conditions are characterized by soft and spongy wood that is still in place. Cubicle rot is another condition caused by a fungus. Termites on the other hand remove the wood and leave channels packed with mud. Termites also do NOT like wet conditions.

Eastern Home Inspections of NJ 800-229-3472  www.inspectnj.com

Typical Concrete Block Foundation Cracks

Foundation Cracks Found During the Course of a Home Inspection

In New Jersey the most common type of basement foundation that we encounter is concrete block. Economical and durable but not without problems.

Home Inspectors occasionally find cracks in this type of foundation that are divided into three basic categories : vertical, horizontal and step cracks. These cracks run the gamut from hairline to more then a 1/4” wide. Concrete block foundations can also display bulging or leaning characteristics.

Your home inspector will take some measurement using very basic tools such as his tape measure and a weighted plumb line to determine if these cracks are structurally significant .

If he measures excessive lean in the foundation or if he finds differential settlement indicating a failing footing beneath the wall your inspector will call for FURTHER EVALUATION of his concerns by a qualified structural engineer familiar with foundation problems.

With his specialized training and tools your structural engineer will be able to determine if a relatively inexpensive repair will be all that is needed or if the costly replacement of a section of concrete blocks will be necessary to provide adequate support to the house above !

Eastern Home Inspections is available 7 days a week (800) 333-2783      www.inspectnj.com