Ten Tips to Speed Up Your Home Inspection

Speed up your home sale by preparing your home ahead of time using the following tips. Your home inspection will go smoother, with fewer concerns to delay closing.
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  1. Confirm that that the water, electrical and gas services are turned on (including pilot lights).
  2. Make sure your pets won’t hinder your home inspection. Ideally, they should be removed from the premises or secured outside. Tell your agent about any pets at home.
  3. Replace burned-out light bulbs to avoid a “light is inoperable” report that may suggest an electrical problem.
  4. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and replace dead batteries.
  5. Clean or replace dirty HVAC air filters. They should fit securely.
  6. Remove stored items, debris and wood from the foundation. These may be cited as “conducive conditions” for termites.
  7. Remove items blocking access to HVAC equipment, electrical service panels, the water heater, attic and crawlspace.
  8. Unlock any locked areas that your home inspector must access, such as the attic door or hatch, the electrical service panel, the door to the basement, and any exterior gates.
  9. Trim tree limbs so that they’re at least 10 feet away from the roof.  Trim any shrubs that are too close to the house and can hides pests or hold moisture against the exterior.
  10. Repair or replace any broken or missing items, such as doorknobs, locks or latches, windowpanes or screens, gutters or downspouts, or chimney caps.

Checking these areas before your home inspection is an investment in selling your property. Better yet, have your InterNACHI inspector ensure that your home is Move-In Certified™.  Your real estate agent will thank you!

Top 10 Safest Cities to Live In Georgia

According to SafeWise.com 

images (1)The 10 Safest Cities in Georgia

1. Summerville

Population: 4,442
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.23
Property crimes per 1,000: 9.23
Total crime: 2.44% violent, 97.56% property

2. Milton

Population: 38,551
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.26
Property crimes per 1,000: 8.77
Total crime: 2.96% violent, 97.04% property

3. Johns Creek

Population: 84,629
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.32
Property crimes per 1,000: 8.12
Total crime: 3.93% violent, 96.07% property

4. Senoia

Population: 4,233
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.47
Property crimes per 1,000: 10.87
Total crime: 4.35% violent, 95.65% property

5. Peachtree City

Population: 35,387
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.54
Property crimes per 1,000: 15.40
Total crime: 3.49% violent, 96.52%

6. Alpharetta

Population: 64,943
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.54
Property crimes per 1,000: 20.14
Total crime: 2.68% violent, 97,32% property

7. Tyrone

Population: 7,243
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.69
Property crimes per 1,000: 9.94
Total crime: 6.94% violent, 93.06% property

8. Dallas

Population: 13,135
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.84
Property crimes per 1,000: 15.07
Total crime: 5.56% violent, 94.44% property

9. Flowery Branch

Population: 6,895
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.87
Property crimes per 1,000: 22.48
Total crime: 3.87% violent, 96.13% property

10. Grovetown

Population: 13,469
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.89
Property crimes per 1,000: 13,29
Total crime: 6.70% violent, 93.30% property

How They Chose the Safest Cities in Georgia

To identify the fifty safest cities in Georgia, Safewise reviewed the 2016 FBI crime report statistics and population data. Cities that fell below identified population thresholds or that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI were excluded from the ranking system.

Their evaluation is based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) in each city. If there was a tie, they also factored in the number of property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft). To level the playing field, they calculated the rate of crimes per 1,000 people in each city. This makes it easier to directly compare the likelihood of these crimes occurring in cities with vastly different populations.

To See Georgia’s 50 Safest Cities of 2018 Click Here.

 

InterNACHI’s Standard Estimated Life Expectancy Chart for Homes

The following chart details the predicted life expectancy of appliances, products, materials, systems and components.  (For homes located in Florida and the surrounding coastal region, please refer to InterNACHI’s Florida Estimated Life Expectancy Chart for Homes.)

Consumers, and inspectors and other professionals advising their clients, should note that these life expectancies have been determined through research and testing based on regular recommended maintenance and conditions of normal wear and tear, and not extreme weather or other conditions, neglect, over-use or abuse.  Therefore, they should be used as guidelines only, and not relied upon as guarantees or warranties. 

Full-color, downloadable version to include with inspection reports. 

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Surface preparation and paint quality are the most important determinants of a paint’s life expectancy. Ultraviolet (UV) rays via sunshine can shorten life expectancy.  Additionally, conditions of high humidity indoors or outdoors can affect the lifespan of these components, which is why they should be inspected and maintained seasonally.

ADHESIVES, CAULK & PAINTS YEARS
Caulking (interior & exterior) 5 to 10
Construction Glue 20+
Paint (exterior) 7 to 10
Paint (interior) 10 to 15
Roofing Adhesives/Cements 15+
Sealants 8
Stains 3 to 8

 

 

Appliance life expectancy depends to a great extent on the use it receives. Furthermore, consumers often replace appliances long before they become worn out due to changes in styling, technology and consumer preferences.

 

APPLIANCES       YEARS
Air Conditioner (window) 5 to 7
Compactor (trash) 6
Dehumidifier 8
Dishwasher 9
Disposal (food waste) 12
Dryer Vent  (plastic) 5
Dryer Vent  (steel) 20
Dryer (clothes) 13
Exhaust Fans 10
Freezer 10 to 20
Gas Oven 10 to 18
Hand Dryer 10 to 12
Humidifier (portable) 8
Microwave Oven 9
Range/Oven Hood 14
Electric Range 13 to 15
Gas Range 15 to 17
Refrigerator 9 to 13
Swamp Cooler 5 to 15
Washing Machine 5 to 15
Whole-House Vacuum System 20

 

 

Modern kitchens today are larger and more elaborate.  Together with the family room, they now form the “great room.”

 

CABINETRY & STORAGE    YEARS
Bathroom Cabinets 50+
Closet Shelves 100+
Entertainment Center/Home Office 10
Garage/Laundry Cabinets 70+
Kitchen Cabinets 50
Medicine Cabinet 25+
Modular (stock manufacturing-type) 50

 

 

Walls and ceilings last the full lifespan of the home.

 

CEILINGS & WALLS
YEARS
Acoustical Tile Ceiling 40+ (older than 25 years may contain asbestos)
Ceramic Tile 70+
Concrete 75+
Gypsum 75
Wood Paneling 20 to 50
Suspended Ceiling 25+

 

 

Natural stone countertops, which are less expensive than they were just a few years ago, are becoming more popular, and one can expect them to last a lifetime. Cultured marble countertops have a shorter life expectancy, however.

 

COUNTERTOPS YEARS
Concrete 50
Cultured Marble 20
Natural Stone 100+
Laminate 20 to 30
Resin 10+
Tile 100+
Wood 100+

 

 

Decks are exposed to a wide range of conditions in different climates, from wind and hail in some areas, to relatively consistent, dry weather in others. See FASTENERS & STEEL section for fasteners.

 

DECKS YEARS 
Deck Planks 15
Composite 8 to 25
Structural Wood 10 to 30

 

 

Exterior fiberglass, steel and wood doors will last as long as the house, while vinyl and screen doors have a shorter life expectancy. The gaskets/weatherstripping of exterior doors may have to be replaced every 5 to 8 years.

 

DOORS YEARS
Closet (interior) 100+
Fiberglass (exterior) 100+
Fire-Rated Steel (exterior) 100+
French (interior) 30 to 50
Screen (exterior) 30
Sliding Glass/Patio (exterior) 20 (for roller wheel/track repair/replacement)
Vinyl (exterior) 20
Wood (exterior) 100+
Wood (hollow-core interior) 20 to 30
Wood (solid-core interior) 30 to 100+

 

 

Copper-plated wiring, copper-clad aluminum, and bare copper wiring are expected to last a lifetime, whereas electrical accessories and lighting controls, such as dimmer switches, may need to be replaced after 10 years.  GFCIs could last 30 years, but much less if tripped regularly.

 

Remember that faulty, damaged or overloaded electrical circuits or equipment are the leading cause of house fires, so they should be inspected regularly and repaired or updated as needed.

 

ELECTRICAL YEARS
Accessories 10+
Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) 30
Bare Copper 100+
Bulbs (compact fluorescent) 8,000 to 10,000+ hours
Bulbs (halogen) 4,000 to 8,000+ hours
Bulbs (incandescent) 1,000 to 2,000+ hours
Bulbs (LED) 30,000 to 50,000+ hours
Copper-Clad Aluminum 100+
Copper-Plated 100+
Fixtures 40
Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) up to 30
Lighting Controls 30+
Residential Propane Backup Generators 12
Service Panel 60
Solar Panels 20 to 30
Solar System Batteries 3 to 12
Wind Turbine Generators 20

 

 

Floor and roof trusses and laminated strand lumber are durable household components, and engineered trim may last 30 years.

 

ENGINEERED LUMBER YEARS
Engineered Joists 80+
Laminated Strand Lumber 100+
Laminated Veneer Lumber 80+
Trusses 100+

 

Fastener manufacturers do not give lifespans for their products because they vary too much based on where the fasteners are installed in a home, the materials in which they’re installed, and the local climate and environment.  However, inspectors can use the guidelines below to make educated judgments about the materials they inspect.

 

FASTENERS, CONNECTORS & STEEL YEARS
Adjustable Steel Columns 50+
Fasteners (bright) 25 to 60
Fasteners (copper) 65 to 80+
Fasteners (galvanized) 10+
Fasteners (electro-galvanized) 15 to 45
Fasteners (hot-dipped galvanized) 35 to 60
Fasteners (stainless) 65 to 100+
Steel Beams 200+
Steel Columns 100+
Steel Plates 100+

 

 

Flooring life is dependent on maintenance and the amount of foot traffic the floor endures.

 

FLOORING YEARS
All Wood Floors 100+
Bamboo 100+
Brick Pavers 100+
Carpet 8 to 10
Concrete 50+
Engineered Wood 50+
Exotic Wood 100+
Granite 100+
Laminate 15 to 25
Linoleum 25
Marble 100+
Other Domestic Wood 100+
Slate 100
Terrazzo 75+
Tile 75 to 100
Vinyl 25

 

 

Concrete and poured-block footings and foundations will last a lifetime, assuming they were properly built.  Waterproofing with bituminous coating lasts 10 years, but if it cracks, it is immediately damaged.

 

FOUNDATIONS YEARS
Baseboard Waterproofing System 50
Bituminous-Coating Waterproofing 10
Concrete Block 100+
Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) 100
Permanent Wood Foundation (PWF; treated) 75
Post and Pier 20 to 65
Post and Tensioned Slab on Grade 100+
Poured-Concrete Footings and Foundation 100+
Slab on Grade (concrete) 100
Wood Foundation 5 to 40

 

 

Framing and structural systems have extended longevities; poured-concrete systems, timber frame houses and structural insulated panels will all last a lifetime.

 

FRAMING YEARS
Log 80 to 200
Poured-Concrete Systems 100+
Steel 100+
Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) 100+
Timber Frame 100+

 

 

The quality and frequency of use will affect the longevity of garage doors and openers.

 

GARAGES YEARS
Garage Doors 20 to 25
Garage Door Openers 10 to 15

 

 

Home technology systems have diverse life expectancies and may have to be upgraded due to evolution in technology.

 

HOME TECHNOLOGY YEARS
Built-In Audio 20
Carbon Monoxide Detectors* 5
Doorbells 45
Home Automation System 5 to 50
Intercoms 20
Security System 5 to 20
Smoke/Heat Detectors* less than 10
Wireless Home Networks 5+

* Batteries should be changed at least annually.

 

 

Thermostats may last 35 years but they are usually replaced before they fail due to technological improvements.

 

HVAC YEARS
Air Conditioner (central) 7 to 15
Air Exchanger 15
Attic Fan 15 to 25
Boiler 40
Burner 10+
Ceiling Fan 5 to 10
Chimney Cap (concrete) 100+
Chimney Cap (metal) 10 to 20
Chimney Cap (mortar) 15
Chimney Flue Tile 40 to 120
Condenser 8 to 20
Dampers 20+
Dehumidifier 8
Diffusers, Grilles and Registers 25
Ducting 60 to 100
Electric Radiant Heater 40
Evaporative Cooler 15 to 25
Furnace 15 to 25
Gas Fireplace 15 to 25
Heat Exchanger 10 to 15
Heat Pump 10 to 15
Heat-Recovery Ventilator 20
Hot-Water and Steam-Radiant Boiler 40
Humidifier 12
Induction and Fan-Coil Units 10 to 15
Thermostats 35
Ventilator 7

 

 

As long as they are not punctured, cut or burned and are kept dry and away from UV rays, cellulose, fiberglass and foam insulation materials will last a lifetime. This is true regardless of whether they were installed as loose-fill, housewrap or batts/rolls.

 

INSULATION & INFILTRATION BARRIERS YEARS
Batts/Rolls 100+
Black Paper (felt paper) 15 to 30
Cellulose 100+
Fiberglass 100+
Foamboard 100+
Housewrap 80+
Liquid-Applied Membrane 50
Loose-Fill 100+
Rockwool 100+
Wrap Tape 80+

 

 

Masonry is one of the most enduring household components. Fireplaces, chimneys and brick veneers can last the lifetime of the home.

 

MASONRY & CONCRETE    YEARS
Brick 100+
Insulated Concrete Forms (hybrid block) 100+
Concrete Masonry Units (CMUs) 100+
Man-Made Stone 25
Masonry Sealant 2 to 20
Stone 100+
Stucco/EIFS 50+
Veneer 100+

 

 

Custom millwork and stair parts will last a lifetime and are typically only upgraded for aesthetic reasons.

 

MOLDING, MILLWORK & TRIM YEARS
Attic Stairs (pull-down) 50
Custom Millwork 100+
Pre-Built Stairs 100+
Stair Parts 100+
Stairs 100+

 

 

The lifetime of any wood product depends heavily on moisture intrusion.

 

PANELS YEARS
Flooring Underlayment 25
Hardboard 40
Particleboard 60
Plywood 100
Softwood 30
Oriented Strand Board (OSB) 60
Wall Panels 100+

 

 

The quality of plumbing fixtures varies dramatically.  The mineral content of water can shorten the life expectancy of water heaters and clog showerheads.  Also, some finishes may require special maintenance with approved cleaning agents per the manufacturers in order to last their expected service lives.

 

PLUMBING, FIXTURES & FAUCETS YEARS
ABS and PVC Waste Pipe 50 to 80
Accessible/ADA Handles 100+
Acrylic Kitchen Sink 50
Cast-Iron Bathtub 100
Cast-Iron Waste Pipe (above ground) 60
Cast-Iron Waste Pipe (below ground) 50 to 60
Concrete Waste Pipe 100+
Copper Water Lines 70
Enameled Steel Kitchen Sink 5 to 10+
Faucets and Spray Hose 15 to 20
Fiberglass Bathtub and Shower 20
Gas Lines (black steel) 75
Gas Lines (flex) 30
Hose Bibs 20 to 30
Instant (on-demand) Water Heater 10
PEX 40
Plastic Water Lines 75
Saunas/Steam Room 15 to 20
Sewer Grinder Pump 10
Shower Enclosure/Module 50
Shower Doors 20
Showerheads 100+ (if not clogged by mineral/other deposits)
Soapstone Kitchen Sink 100+
Sump Pump 7
Toilet Tank Components 5
Toilets, Bidets and Urinals 100+
Vent Fan (ceiling) 5 to 10
Vessel Sink (stone, glass, porcelain, copper) 5 to 20+
Water Heater (conventional) 6 to 12
Water Line (copper) 50
Water Line (plastic) 50
Water Softener 20
Well Pump 15
Whirlpool Tub 20 to 50

 

 

Radon systems have but one moving part:  the radon fan.

 

RADON SYSTEMS
YEARS
Air Exchanger 15
Barometric Backdraft Damper/Fresh-Air Intake 20
Caulking 5 to 10
Labeling 25
Manometer 15
Piping 50+
Radon Fan 5 to 8

 

 

The life of a roof depends on local weather conditions, building and design, material quality, and adequate maintenance.  Hot climates drastically reduce asphalt shingle life.  Roofs in areas that experience severe weather, such as hail, tornadoes and/or hurricanes, may also experience a shorter-than-normal lifespan overall or may incur isolated damage that requires repair in order to ensure the service life of the surrounding roofing materials.

 

ROOFING YEARS
Aluminum Coating 3 to 7
Asphalt (architectural) 30
Asphalt Shingles (3-tab) 20
BUR (built-up roofing) 30
Clay/Concrete 100+
Coal and Tar 30
Copper 70+
EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) Rubber 15 to 25
Fiber Cement 25
Green (vegetation-covered) 5 to 40
Metal 40 to 80
Modified Bitumen 20
Simulated Slate 10 to 35
Slate 60 to 150
TPO 7 to 20
Wood 25

 

 

Outside siding materials typically last a lifetime.  Some exterior components may require protection through appropriate paints or sealants, as well as regular maintenance.  Also, while well-maintained and undamaged flashing can last a long time, it is their connections that tend to fail, so seasonal inspection and maintenance are strongly recommended.

 

SIDINGS, FLASHING & ACCESSORIES YEARS
Aluminum Gutters, Downspouts, Soffit and Fascia 20 to 40+
Aluminum Siding 25 to 40+
Asbestos Shingle 100
Brick 100+
Cementitious 100+
Copper Downspouts 100
Copper Gutters 50+
Engineered Wood 100+
Fiber Cement 100+
Galvanized Steel Gutters/Downspouts 20
Manufactured Stone 100+
Stone 100+
Stucco/EIFS 50+
Trim 25
Vinyl Gutters and Downspouts 25+
Vinyl Siding 60
Wood/Exterior Shutters 20

 

 

Site and landscaping elements have life expectancies that vary dramatically.

 

SITE & LANDSCAPING YEARS
American Red Clay 100+
Asphalt Driveway 15 to 20
Brick and Concrete Patio 15 to 25
Clay Paving 100+
Concrete Walks 40 to 50
Controllers 15
Gravel Walks 4 to 6
Mulch 1 to 2
Polyvinyl Fencing 100+
Sprinkler Heads 10 to 14
Underground PVC Piping 60+
Valves 20
Wood Chips 1 to 5
Wood Fencing 20

 

 

Swimming pools are composed of many systems and components, all with varying life expectancies.

 

SWIMMING POOLS
YEARS
Concrete Shell 25+
Cover 7
Diving Board 10
Filter and Pump 10
Interior Finish 10 to 35
Pool Water Heater 8
Vinyl Liner 10
Waterline Tile 15+

 

 

Aluminum windows are expected to last between 15 and 20 years, while wooden windows should last nearly 30 years.

 

WINDOWS YEARS
Aluminum/Aluminum-Clad 15 to 20
Double-Pane 8 to 20
Skylights 10 to 20
Vinyl/Fiberglass Windows 20 to 40
Window Glazing 10+
Wood 30+

Note: Life expectancy varies with usage, weather, installation, maintenance and quality of materials.  This list should be used only as a general guideline and not as a guarantee or warranty regarding the performance or life expectancy of any appliance, product, system or component.

Carpeted Bathrooms

by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard
Carpeted bathrooms are bathrooms that have carpeted floors instead of traditional floor surfaces, such as tile or vinyl. Despite their tendency to foster mold and bacteria, carpets are sometimes installed in residential bathrooms for aesthetic purposes. Carpets should never be installed in bathrooms in commercial buildings.
Advantages of Carpets in Bathrooms
  • They make bathrooms appear more warm and inviting.
  • They are softer than tile and many people find them comfortable on bare feet.
  • Bathroom slip hazards are reduced. It is easier to slip on hard bathroom surfaces, such as tile, than on carpet.
  • Installation is generally quick and inexpensive.
Disadvantages of Carpets in Bathrooms
The pad beneath the carpet may soak up large amounts of moisture.  Some of the common ways that carpets may come into contact with moisture in bathrooms include:
  • Steam from the shower will condense on the carpet.
  • Water splashes from the tub or shower.
  • Water sheds from shower/tub occupants as they step onto the carpet.
  • Water splashes out of the sink.
  • Water drips from the vanity.
  • Water leaks from the toilet.
The presence of moisture in the pad will lead to the growth of decay fungi on the wood or oriented strand board (OSB) sub-floor. The sub-floor will be decayed and weakened by mold. Mold also releases spores that can cause respiratory ailments, especially for those with certain health problems. Inspectors can use moisture meters to determine if there is excess moisture beneath a carpet.

In addition to potential mold growth beneath the carpet, bacteria can accumulate in carpeting that surrounds the toilet. Bacteria are contained in urine, which can be accidentally deflected onto the carpet.

Carpeted Bathrooms in Commercial Buildings
It is against code to install carpet in commercial bathrooms. The 2007 edition of the International Building Code (IBC) states the following concerning carpeted bathrooms in commercial buildings:
In other than dwelling units, toilet, bathing and shower room floor finish materials shall have a smooth, hard, nonabsorbent surface. The intersections of such floors with walls shall have a smooth, hard, nonabsorbent vertical base that extends upward onto the walls at least 4 inches (102 mm).
Recommendations for Clients
The following are recommendations that InterNACHI inspectors can pass on to clients who are experiencing urine- or moisture-related problems with their bathroom carpet:
  • Clean the carpet regularly to remove any mold or urine that may be present.
  • Keep the carpet as dry as possible. Various devices exist that prevent water from bypassing the shower curtain.
  • Install a bathroom fan, if one is not installed already. If a fan is installed, operate it more often.
  • Inspectors can inform their clients about why they are experiencing problems.
In summary, carpets installed in bathrooms can trap moisture and urine, substances that can cause structural damage and health problems.

Fire Safety for the Home

by Nick Gromicko and Kate Tarasenko
The U.S. Fire Administration reports that more than 403,000 home fires occurred in the U.S. in 2008, causing 2,780 deaths and more than 13,500 injuries.  Some fires are caused by issues related to the structure, such as lightning strikes, faulty wiring, furnace malfunctions, and other electrical and heating system-related mishaps.

But most home fires are preventable.  According to an April 2010 report by the National Fire Protection Association, adults over the age of 75 are almost three times more likely to die in a home fire than the rest of the general public.  The NFPA’s fire prevention program promotes the following eight tips that elderly people – and people of all ages – can use.

1.  Plan and practice your escape from fire.

We’ve heard this advice before, but you can’t be prepared to act in an emergency if you don’t have a plan and everybody knows what that plan is.  Panic and fear can spread as quickly as a fire, so map out an escape route and a meeting place outdoors, and involve even the youngest family members so that everyone can work as a unit to make a safe escape. 

If you live in a condo or apartment building, make sure you read the signs posted on your floor advising you of the locations of stairways and other exits, as well as alarm pull stations and fire extinguishers.

2.  Plan your escape around your abilities.

Keeping a phone by your bedside will allow you to call 911 quickly, especially if the exits of your home are blocked by smoke or flames.  Keep a pair of shoes near your bed, too.  If your home or building has a fire escape, take some time to practice operating it and climbing it.

3.  Smoke alarms save lives.

If you don’t already have permanently installed smoke alarms hard-wired into your electrical system and located outside each bedroom and on each floor, purchase units and place them in those locations.  Install them using adhesive or screws, but be careful not to touch your screwdriver to any internal wiring, which can cause an electrostatic discharge and disable them.

Also, install carbon monoxide detectors, which can protect family members from lethal poisoning even before a fire starts.

4.  Give space heaters space.

Whether saving on utility bills by using the furnace infrequently, or when using these portable units for spot heat, make sure you give them at least 3 feet of clearance.  Be sure to turn off and unplug them when you leave or go to bed.  Electrical appliances draw current even when they’re turned off, and a faulty one can cause a fire that can spread through the wires in the walls at a deadly pace.

5.  If you smoke, smoke outside.

Not only will this keep your family members healthier and your home smelling fresher, it will minimize the chance that an errant ember from your cigarette will drop and smolder unnoticed until it causes damage.

6.  Be kitchen-wise.

This means monitoring what you have on the stove and keeping track of what’s baking in the oven.  Don’t cook if you’re tired or taking medication that clouds your judgment or makes you drowsy.  Being kitchen-wise also means wearing clothing that will not easily catch on the handles of pots and pans, or graze open flames or heating elements.

It also means knowing how to put out a grease fire; water will make it spread, but salt or baking soda will extinguish it quickly, as will covering the pot or pan with a lid and turning off the stove.  Always use your cooktop’s vent fan while cooking.

Keep a small, all-purpose fire extinguisher in a handy place, such as under the sink.  These 3-pound lifesavers are rated “ABC” for their fire-suppressing contents:  “A” puts out ignited trash, wood and paper; “B” acts on grease and other flammable liquids; and “C” deals with small electrical fires.  Read the instructions on these inexpensive devices when you bring them home from the store so that you can act quickly, if the time comes.  If your fire extinguisher is somewhat old because you’ve yet to use it, turning the canister upside-down and tapping the bottom will help agitate the contents and prevent them from caking, and possibly clogging the nozzle at the time of use.  It’s also a good idea to stow an extra fire extinguisher near the bedrooms.  If an emergency arises and you find yourself trapped by an uncooperative window, you can use the canister to smash through it.

7.  Stop, drop and roll.

Fight the urge to panic and run if your clothes catch fire because this will only accelerate its spread, since fire needs oxygen to sustain and grow.  Tamping out the fire by rolling is effective, especially since your clothes may be on fire on your back or lower body where you may not be immediately aware of it.  If ground space is limited, cover yourself with a blanket to tamp out any flames, and douse yourself with water as soon as you can.

Additionally, always stay close to the floor during a fire; heat and smoke rise, and breathable air will normally be found at the floor-level, giving you a greater chance of escape before being overcome by smoke and toxic fumes.

Also, before exiting a closed room, be sure to test the doorknob for heat before opening the door.  A very hot doorknob indicates that fire could be lurking just outside; opening the door will feed the fire an added surge of oxygen, potentially causing an explosive backdraft that can be fatal.

8.  Know your local emergency number.

People of all ages need to know their emergency number (usually, it’s 911).  Posting it near the phone and putting it on speed-dial will save precious moments when the ability to think clearly may be compromised.

More Tips

  • Make sure your electrical system is updated, and that you have appropriate AFCI and GFCI receptacles.  Have your system inspected by an InterNACHI inspector or a licensed electrician to make sure your electrical needs are not taxing your electrical system.
  • Make sure you have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors installed.  Test them to make sure they’re working properly, and change their batteries at least annually. 
  • Check to see that your house number is clearly visible from the street, and unobstructed by any tree branches or structural overhangs.  If first-responders are called to your home to put out a fire, make sure they can find you.
  • Be aware of lit candles.  Never leave them unattended, and always blow them out when leaving home or going to bed.  This is especially important during the holidays when candles are used as holiday decorations.  Also, keep them out of the way of drapes and plants, and out of reach of children and especially pets, whose tails can accidentally knock over a candle or come into contact with its flame.
  • Never use barbecue grills indoors, either for cooking or as a heat source.  The carbon monoxide they emit cannot be adequately vented, and their flammable materials pose safety hazards.  Also, do not use the oven to heat the indoors.  Space heaters are safer and more energy-efficient.  Ask your InterNACHI home inspector to perform an energy audit to find heat leaks, and to suggest low-cost ways to keep your home warm and comfortable during cold weather.
  • Consider getting rid of your electric blanket.  The fire hazards associated with them make the prospect of trading them in for a thick comforter or multiple blankets much less worrisome.  When their embedded cords become bent, the internal wiring can break, causing them to short out and start an electrical fire.
  • This electric blanket shorted out and caught fire, burning the bedding and mattress.  Its user barely escaped serious injury.Be extra-vigilant when using hot pads, hotplates, Bunsen burners and portable cooktops.  They can overheat and burn the surface they’re sitting on, or burn through a cup or pot sitting on top, which can lead to smoke and fire.  Never leave these unattended, and always unplug (or extinguish) them when not in use.
  • Unplug portable electronic devices and other small appliances when not in use.  Coffeemakers, blow dryers and other devices we use daily still draw current when they’re plugged in, even if they’re turned off.  A faulty device can cause an electrical fire that can be devastating.  One family in Boulder, Colo., returned home one day to discover their house burned to the ground; the fire marshal discovered that the cause was a switched-off curling iron that was left plugged into the wall’s receptacle  Get into the habit of unplugging, just to be safe.
  • Use extension cords sparingly, and always unplug them when not in use.  Some electrical devices work best when plugged directly into the wall’s receptacle or outlet, especially if they have a ground wire (which you should never cut off).  Devices plugged into extension cords can easily overheat (themselves or the extension cords), damaging wires within walls and weakening your electrical system, potentially causing an electrical fire.  Always check for the UL-listed label on extension cords.  Remember that they also pose a tripping hazard, which is another reason to minimize their use.
  • Clean your clothes dryer’s lint trap after each use.  Your dryer should vent directly to the outdoors. Check to make sure that there are no obstructions in the vent hose, such as birds’ nests, foliage or other debris.  The vent should have a damper to keep wildlife and debris out, but it should not have a screen, which can trap combustibles, allowing them to accumulate, heat up, and possibly catch fire.
  • If you have a fireplace, remember to have it professionally inspected and cleaned periodically by a chimney sweep.  Creosote buildup can cause a fire that may unexpectedly back into the living space.  Make sure your damper is working properly, and that the chimney lining is in good condition.  The next time your InterNACHI inspector inspects your roof, s/he can check for adequate flashing around the chimney, as well as its structural integrity.  Make sure the fire is completely out before you leave the home.  Keep all kindling and combustibles a safe distance away from the mouth of the fireplace.  Make use of a screen at the hearth to prevent embers from escaping.  And avoid burning green wood, which doesn’t burn as evenly or safely as dry wood.

Smoke Alarms

All new residential construction requires the installation of smoke alarms, usually on each floor of the home, as well as outside each sleeping area.  Many newer smoke alarms can also detect carbon monoxide.  This silent and odorless killer is one of the primary causes of accidental death because family members can be fatally poisoned while sleeping.

Smoke alarms come in two types.  Photoelectric alarms can sense smoky and smoldering fires.  Ionization alarms are quicker at detecting flames and fast-moving fire.  Dual-sensor smoke alarms combine both these features, and are recommended by the USFA because it’s impossible to predict the type of fire that may erupt in a home.  There are also smoke alarms that vibrate and/or flash strobe lights to alert home dwellers who are vision-impaired or hard of hearing.

The leading U.S. manufacturer of residential smoke alarms, as well as home fire extinguishers, is Kidde.  Their dual-sensor smoke alarms were the subject of a voluntary recall by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in the summer of 2009 because of a malfunction caused by an electrostatic discharge created during their installation, rendering them inoperable.  Make sure that you install any portable smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors safely, and test them after installation.  You can also ask your local fire department to do this for you.

Many smoke alarms are hard-wired into the home’s electrical system, but may still have batteries for backup in the event of a power outage.  They also typically have a test button. Make sure you test them once a month, and replace the batteries once a year.  If you hear a chirping noise, this is a signal that the batteries are weak and need replacing.

Some smoke alarms have “nuisance” buttons.  If you burn something that you’re cooking and accidentally set off the alarm, you can press the nuisance button to turn it off.  Remember not to actually disable the alarm; you may forget to reset it later.  Simply clear the room of smoke instead.

Rebates and Discounts

Under most standard homeowners and even renters insurance policies today, having smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers in the home will qualify policyholders for rebates and discounts on their premiums.  Some newer homes now have sprinkler systems, and various municipalities around the U.S. are mandating their installation, depending on the square footage of the home.
In summary, installing dual-sensor smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as taking some common-sense precautions and performing regular household maintenance, will help keep your family safe from the destructive and potentially lethal effects of a house fire.  Schedule an inspection with your InterNACHI inspector to see where you can fortify your home against this threat.

Why Choose Hero Home Inspection?

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There are so many reasons to choose Hero Home Inspection but here are just a few….

Great Reviews: Our past clients love us!  Just check out our testimonial section or our Google Reviews.

Great Value:  Reasonable prices, no hidden fees or extra charges.  Our prices are all listed on our website!  Free services such as aerial drone inspections and infrared camera inspections.  Discounts available for returning clients, Military Families and First Responders.

Experience:  We have years of experience in this industry, along with resumes that include construction, roofing and contracting backgrounds.

Certified and Insured:  We make sure to stay up to date with the latest in technology, but also make sure to keep our certifications up to date so that we can provide the best service available to you.  We also hold a million dollar liability insurance policy which can be viewed here.

We Care About You!  We know that our clients and agents are the heart of our business.  We truly want to make the home buying experience less stressful for everyone involved.  Along with our home inspections we offer the Buy Your Home Back Guarantee to help put your mind at ease along with a 90 Day Miss Anything Guarantee.

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Click Here to Get A Quote or Schedule Your Inspection Today or Call Us at 678-953-7460!

Safety First: Attic Pull Down Ladders

Attic pull-down ladders, also called attic pull-down stairways, are collapsible ladders that are permanently attached to the attic floor. Occupants can use these ladders to access their atticsAttic pull down ladder without being required to carry a portable ladder.
 
Common Defects
 

In older homes, Homeowners, not professional carpenters, usually installed the attic pull-down ladders. Evidence of this distinction can be observed in consistently shoddy and dangerous work that rarely meets safety standards. Some of the more common defective conditions observed by inspectors include:

  • cut bottom cord of structural truss. Often, homeowners will cut through a structural member in the field while installing a pull-down ladder, unknowingly weakening the structure. Structural members should not be modified in the field without an engineer’s approval;
  • fastened with improper nails or screws. Homeowners often use drywall or deck screws rather than the standard 16d penny nails or ¼” x 3” lag screws. Nails and screws that are intended for other purposes may have reduced shear strength and they may not support pull-down ladders;
  • fastened with an insufficient number of nails or screws. Manufacturers provide a certain number of nails with instructions that they all be used, and they probably do this for a good reason. Inspectors should be wary of “place nail here” notices that are nowhere near any nails;
  • lack of insulation. Hatches in many houses (especially older ones) are not likely to be weather-stripped and/or insulated. An uninsulated attic hatch allows air from the attic to flow freely into the home, which may cause the heating or cooling system to run overtime. An attic hatch cover box can be installed to increase energy savings;
  • loose mounting bolts. This condition is more often caused by age rather than installation, although improper installation will hasten the loosening process;
  • attic pull-down ladders are cut too short. Stairs should reach the floor;
  • attic pull-down ladders are cut too long. This causes pressure at the folding hinge, which can cause breakage;
  • improper or missing fasteners;
  • compromised fire barrier when installed in the garage;
  • attic ladder frame is not properly secured to the ceiling opening;
  • closed ladder is covered with debris, such as blown insulation or roofing material shed during roof work. Inspectors can place a sheet on the floor beneath the ladder to catch whatever debris may fall onto the floor; and
  • cracked steps. This defect is a problem with wooden ladders.
  • In sliding pull-down ladders, there is a potential for the ladder to slide down quickly without notice. Always pull the ladder down slowly and cautiously.

Tips for our clients:

  • Do not allow children to enter the attic through an attic access. The lanyard attached to the attic stairs should be short enough that children cannot reach it. Parents can also lock the attic ladder so that a key or combination is required to access it.
  • If possible, avoid carrying large loads into the attic. While properly installed stairways may safely support an adult man, they might fail if he is carrying, for instance, a bag full of bowling balls. Such trips can be split up to reduce the weight load.
  • Replace an old, rickety wooden ladder with a new one. Newer aluminum models are often lightweight, sturdy and easy to install.

In summary, attic pull-down ladders are prone to a number of defects, most of which are due to improper installation. Please be cautious and mindful whenever you are using ladders.

Why Get a Home Inspection If You’re Buying “As Is”?

Some sellers – often, those working without an agent – want to sell their home “as is” so they don’t have to invest money fixing it up or take on any potential liability for defects.  There is nothing wrong with buying a home “as is,” particularly if you can buy it at a favorable price, but if you are considering buying an “as is” home, you should still hire a competent home inspector to perform an inspection.  There are several reasons for this.

First, you don’t know what “as is” is. Sure, you can walk through the home and get an idea of its general condition.  You may even spot some defects or items in obvious need of repair.  But you won’t obtain the same detailed information you will receive if you hire a home inspector.  Home inspectors are trained to look for things you are not likely to notice.  InterNACHI inspectors, for example, must follow InterNACHI’s Residential Standards of Practice and check the roof, exterior, interior, foundation, basement, fireplace, attic, insulation, ventilation, doors, windows, heating system, cooling system, plumbing system, and electrical system for certain defects.  Armed with a home inspector’s detailed report, you will have a better idea of what “as is” means regarding that home, which means you’ll be in a better position to know whether you want to buy it.  You may also be able to use information from the home inspection to negotiate a lower price.

Second, many states require the seller to provide you with written a disclosure about the condition of the property.  Sellers often provide little information, and a few even lie.  A home inspection can provide the missing information. If an inspector finds evidence that a seller concealed information or lied to you, that may be a sign that you don’t want to buy a home from that seller.

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Finally, if you buy a home “as is” without hiring a home inspector and then later discover a defect, all is not lost.  A home inspector may be able to review the seller’s disclosure and testify as to what the seller knew or should have known about.  The inspector may find evidence that the seller made misrepresentations or concealed relevant information from you.  Even the seller of an “as is” home may be held liable for misrepresentation or concealment.

But the better choice, obviously, is to hire a home inspector first.  Remember:  The cost of a home inspection is a pittance compared to the price of the home.  Be an informed consumer, especially when buying an “as is” home, and hire an InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector®.

by Mark Cohen, J.D., LL.M., InterNACHI General Counsel, and
Nick Gromicko, InterNACHI Founder

The Tiny House Movement

 by Nick Gromicko

A growing number of homeowners in the U.S. are downsizing to homes smaller than 1,000 square feet, and, in some cases, smaller than 100 square feet. This transition to smaller homes, known as the Small House Movement, is adhered to by people who believe American houses in general are too large, wasteful and energy-inefficient.Small houses are becoming more common

While home sizes ballooned from the 1950s into the early 2000s, data suggests that this trend is slowing, or even reversing. A 2008 survey shows that more than 60% of potential home buyers would rather have a smaller house with more amenities than the other way around. Similarly, according to the National Association of Home Builders, 59% of builders nationwide said they were planning to or were already significantly downscaling from the “McMansion” era.

The disadvantages of downsizing are obvious:  you may have to get rid a lot of furniture, the new house is less prestigious, and you lose space for guests. Neighbors, too, might view your small home as a threat to their property values. But living small is nothing new.  After World War II, 1,000-square-foot homes were the norm for returning soldiers and their families.

Gayle Butler, editor-in-chief of Better Homes and Gardens, describes the Small House Movement as “right-sizing,” rather than downsizing, as homeowners forgo unused space and buy homes that better fit their needs. Dee Williams, of Olympia, Washington, sold her 1,500-square-foot home and moved into an 84-square-foot home that she built herself. When the electric company began charging more for electricity, her bill doubled from $4 to $8, an increase that probably would have been more dramatic in her previous home.

Adherents to the Small House Movement enjoy the following perks of their transition:

  • increased cash flow. Smaller homes require a smaller mortgage, lower property taxes, and decreased homeowner’s insurance, maintenance costs, and the expense required to furnish the home. Owners might even be able to purchase a smaller house in cash using the proceeds from their existing home. And with the extra money, they can afford improved insulation, higher-quality windows and flooring, and luxuries such as solar roof panels and skylights;
  • less maintenance. Fewer rooms and smaller spaces cut down on the time needed to clean and maintain, leaving more hours in the day for more enjoyable activities;
  • lower utility bills. It costs a lot less to heat and cool a small home than a large home. Typically, there is no wasted space in vaults in a small home;
  • reduced consumption. If there is little space to store items, homeowners are much less likely to buy new things. Fewer rooms and windows mean less money spent on TVs and curtains, for instance;
  • more time with family. Less space means that more room must be shared, which encourages group activities and dinners.

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While the benefits of the Small House Movement are clear, the transition isn’t easy for everyone, especially for those who have become accustomed to large houses. The following tips can help homeowners make do with less space:
  • Use items for more than one purpose. For example, you can use a trunk as a coffee table, placing in it items such as shoes, files, and extra sheets to save closet space.
  • Eliminate or cut down on extra silverware, pots, pans and dishes if the kids have moved out.
  • Use rooms for more than one purpose. You may be able to squeeze a small computer desk into the corner of a bedroom, and a rarely-used dining room can double as a library.
  • Purchase a stackable washer/dryer unit to save space.
In summary, median house sizes have begun to decline, spurred on by adherents to the Small House Movement.

Holiday Home Safety Tips

The winter holidays are a time for celebration, and that means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire and accidents. InterNACHI recommends that you follow these guidelines to help make your holiday season safer and more enjoyable.

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Holiday Lighting
  • Use caution with holiday decorations and, whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant and non-combustible materials.
  • Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings, and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. If you have any questions about electrical safety, ask an InterNACHI inspector during your next scheduled inspection. Do not overload extension cords.
  • Don’t mount lights in any way that can damage the cord’s wire insulation.  To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples–don’t use nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
  • Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground-fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
Decorations
  • Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel and artificial icicles of plastic and non-leaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp and breakable, and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children.
  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy and food that may tempt a young child to put them in his mouth.
 
Holiday Entertaining
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S.  When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
  • Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays, and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet).
  • Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.

Trees
  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “fire-resistant.”
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
  • Make sure the base is steady so the tree won’t tip over easily.
   

Fireplaces
  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
  • Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

Toys and Ornaments
  • Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age. Some toys designed for older children might be dangerous for younger children.
  • Electric toys should be UL/FM approved.
  • Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords, and parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children.
  • Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted with lead paint out of the reach of small children and pets.
Children and Pets 
  • Poinsettias are known to be poisonous to humans and animals, so keep them well out of reach, or avoid having them.
  • Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child’s reach.
  • Avoid using tinsel. It can fall on the floor and a curious child or pet may eat it. This can cause anything from mild distress to death.
  • Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7 inches. A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around their neck and choke.
  • Avoid mittens with strings for children. The string can get tangled around the child’s neck and cause them to choke. It is easier to replace a mitten than a child.
  • Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended.
  • Store scissors and any sharp objects that you use to wrap presents out of your child’s reach.
  • Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations, such as candy canes, gingerbread men, and mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards.
 Pet-Safety-Tips
Security
  • Use your home burglar alarm system.
  • If you plan to travel for the holidays, don’t discuss your plans with strangers.
  • Have a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home.