7 Steps to Fall Home Maintenance

Home inspection

Fall is the classic time of year when home maintenance projects really take off. The weather is nicer, insects are less aggressive, and it helps button up the house for the long winter ahead.

Although you may have had your home inspected in the past for major defects, new defects can arise almost overnight. With regular maintenance, homeowners can stay ahead of problems instead of scrambling to fix damage in an emergency.

According to ICA SEO Here are 7 jobs every homeowner should think about at the tail-end of summer.

#1: Check for Cracked and Loose Paint

After a long, blistering summer of unforgiving heat, exterior paint might show cracks, bubbles and flakes. While it’s normal for paint to degrade over time, damage leaves the wood underneath vulnerable to the elements. Now is the time to check paint on siding and trim, remove loose or damaged paint and give it a fresh coat.

Home inspection

Gutter guards can help reduce the amount of large debris that gets trapped inside.

#2: Clean and Secure Gutters and Down Spouts

Hardly anyone enjoys cleaning gutters, but overlooking this simple fall home maintenance job can cause bigger problems. When gutters are full of leaves, water from rains and melting winter snow can’t flow out. That makes the gutter system heavier, which stresses the fasteners. It can also allow water to run backward under the shingles or overflow down the siding. Homeowners should clean out gutters and replace any rusted, loose or missing fasteners while the weather is mild. With fall coming on, it’s also a good time to think about gutter guards to keep leaves out.

#3: Upgrade Inferior Insulation

Inferior insulation lets more heat escape through the ceiling and into the attic where it doesn’t do homeowners any good. Before furnace season arrives in earnest, homeowners should check out attic insulation. If it’s damaged or dirty and compacted, replacement is the smart choice. Even if it’s in good condition, another layer of blanket insulation on top improves the R value.

#4: Replace Old Caulk and Weatherstripping

Caulk and weatherstripping are only as good as their ability to seal air leaks. Once they harden, they can crack and lift. Caulk is inexpensive and seals air leaks around windows and door trim. Weatherstripping makes a complete seal around windows and doors when they’re closed. Both are simple weekend projects that any handy homeowner can handle.

#5: Check the Roof for Loose Shingles 

All that it takes is one good storm to throw a tree branch onto the roof or lift and break the shingles. According to Home Advisor, the average cost of a new roof is about $7,000. After their home inspection, new homeowners still need to watch for damage that weakens the integrity of the roofing system. The sooner it’s repaired or replaced the fewer chances a damaged roof can allow water into the home.

#6: Clean the Fireplace Chimney

In homes with any wood-burning appliance, a clean chimney or flue pipe is a safer one. Before the first fire of the season, homeowners should inspect the chimney or pipe for creosote buildup. A professional maintenance tech or chimney sweep can remove creosote using simple tools.

Home inspection

Considering the costly damage it helps prevent, filter replacement has an enormous return on investment.

#7: Prep the HVAC System

As summer fades into fall, air conditioning switches to heat. Separate air conditioning units should be insulated and covered, recommends Bob Vila, to protect them from the elements and to keep cold air from whistling in around window installations. A filter change is always recommended before turning on heat for the first time of the new cool season.

The weather might be glorious in early fall, but that won’t last for much of the country. Nights get colder, days get shorter and winter blasts make working outside a chore. While the sun is still warm, it’s time for home maintenance projects. That’s what keeps a dream home safe, secure and good investment for the long haul.

 

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.

 

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!

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‚Äôs 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.

54eb988ad7aeb_-_tiny-victorian-painted-lady.jpg

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.

Its a Twister!!! Tornado Safety: Myth vs Fact

Tornadoes, also known as twisters or cyclones, are whirling columns of air that form with little warning and carve unpredictable paths of destruction through communities worldwide.¬†America‚Äôs ‚ÄúTornado Alley‚ÄĚ ‚Äď roughly the area between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains ‚Äď where tornadoes kill dozens and cause billions of dollars in damage annually, sustains the majority of these storms. The extreme danger posed by tornadoes to families and their homes justifies the need for InterNACHI inspectors and their clients to learn some basic tips concerning tornado behavior, preparedness, and
post-storm damage inspection.
What Causes Tornadoes?

Tornadoes form from giant storms called supercells, which are fast rotating updrafts created when colder polar air meets warmer tropical air. Changing wind speeds and direction can cause rising air to rotate vertically, creating within the larger supercell what is known as a mesocyclone. For reasons not yet understood, columns of strong rotating air can develop within the mesocyclone, eventually extending from the cloud base to the ground in the form of a tornado. Their size, shape and color vary greatly, from transparent, narrow funnels several hundred feet across to dark wedges wider than they are tall.

Tornadoes damage small areas and thus cause less damage nationwide than hurricanes and tropical storms, but for those caught in their path, tornadoes can wreak havoc unmatched by any other weather phenomenon. Most tornadoes have wind speeds of less than 110 miles per hour and dissipate after several miles, but larger storms can exceed 300 miles per hour and devastate communities hundreds of miles apart.

Facts and Figures

  • Of the 50 states, Florida experiences the most tornadoes per unit area, while Oklahoma is hit by the strongest tornadoes per unit area. Bangaldesh, due to its poor building construction and general lack of tornado awareness, has the highest annual tornado death toll of any country.
  • Tornadoes in the northern hemisphere generally rotate in a counterclockwise direction, while the opposite is true in the southern hemisphere.
  • Supercells spawn land tornadoes.¬† Dust devils and gustnadoes appear similar to tornadoes but they are distinct and far less dangerous phenomena.
  • A waterspout is a relatively weak tornado that forms over water as a result of cumulus congestus clouds.
  • Tornadoes are intense and can be long-lived. Consider the following extremes:
    • The Bridge Creek-Moore tornado that happened just outside Oklahoma City in 1999 had winds of 301 mph, the highest wind speed ever recorded.
    • The Great Bend tornado in Kansas that occurred in 1915 hurled a sack of flour 110 miles and a cancelled check 305 miles.
    • In 1925, the nicknamed Tri-State Tornado that affected Missouri, Illinois and Indiana holds three records for traveling 219 miles at 73 mph and killing 295 people.

Classifications

Tornado strength is categorized by the following Enhanced Fujita Scale, whereby the storm receives an ‚ÄúF‚ÄĚ rating from 0 to¬†5 based on the severity of the inflicted damage:This photo shows the aftermath of an EF0 storm, the classification for the weakest tornado.

  • EF0: ¬†The weakest type of tornado can cause superficial damage to structures and vegetation.
  • EF1: ¬†This rated tornado can cause major roof damage, with mobile homes seriously damaged.
  • EF2: ¬†This stronger tornado may result in roof loss and wall collapse, with mobile homes destroyed and smaller trees uprooted.
  • EF3: ¬†This is the maximum level that allows for reasonably effective residential sheltering in a first-floor interior room. Small cars can become projectiles and large trees can be snapped.
  • EF4:¬† At this level, most homes are completely destroyed, leaving a pile of debris on the foundation. A storm shelter is required to ensure safety. Trains and large trucks can be pushed over, and cars and large trees can be flung long distances.
  • EF5: ¬†As the result of this strongest and most dangerous tornado, well-built homes can be lifted from their foundations and shredded in mid-air, then dispersed as coarse gAn E5 tornado leveled this home to its foundation.ranules over large areas. Large trucks and farm equipment can be smashed into their components parts, skyscrapers may actually be deformed, and entire communities may be leveled. At a rate of occurrence of just 0.1%, EF5 tornadoes are extremely rare, yet they have caused more than 20% of all tornado casualties.

While no two tornadoes are alike, the anatomy of a tornado‚Äôs attack on a house is as systematic as it is fierce and is defined as ‚Äúa progressive failure [that] begins top-down, then outside-in,‚ÄĚ according to Timothy Marshall, a tornado expert who writes for¬†Popular Mechanics. Within the first second, pummeling debris tears away a structure‚Äôs roof shingles and decking, while wind shatters and rushes through windows and raises the internal pressure. The upward force of the wind on the underside of the already weakened roof, combined with the uplift forces above the roof caused by the high wind, quickly overcome the relatively weak connections between the roof and the walls. The roof tears away from the house, leaving the exterior walls unsupported. In another second, the exterior walls blow out ‚Äď first, the side walls parallel to the straight-line winds, followed by the windward wall, and finally the back wall ‚Äď leaving the interior walls unprotected against the maelstrom. An EF4 tornado needs only four seconds to wipe a foundation clean.

Myth vs. Fact

Knowing what not to do can be just as essential as taking the proper safety precautions. Misconceptions concerning tornadoes persist in the media, which may lead to avoidable damage and even unnecessary injuries and deaths.

InterNACHI would like to dispel the following tornado myths that may harm building occupants:

  • MYTH:¬† Open windows to equalize the barometric pressure between the interior and the exterior pressure caused by a nearby tornado, thereby preventing damage to the building.

FACT:  While a pressure imbalance does exist, it is not great enough to cause a building to explode outward, as was once hypothesized. Damage is primarily caused where wind breaches the building from the outside, which is why windows and other openings should remain closed. Moreover, openings on the windward side of a building actually increase internal wind pressure, resulting in additional uplift force on the roof.

  • MYTH:¬† The safest location in a house is its southwest corner.

FACT:  This notion originated in the 1887 text Tornadoes, from which it became conventional wisdom until a 1966 study indicated that the southwest corner is actually the most dangerous place to be during a tornado. The safest part of a structure during a tornado is the lowest central room, especially a bathroom or the area beneath a stairwell.

  • MYTH:¬† Tornadoes always travel in a northeasterly direction.

FACT:  While in most areas, tornadoes tend to follow their parent storms to the northeast, they may stop, change direction, or suddenly backtrack, seemingly at random. Local geography plays a part, too, such as in Minnesota, where tornadoes sometimes travel northwest, andA conventional home may withstand the effects of an EF2 tornado, but it destroyed this mobile home. in coastal south Texas, where they sometimes travel southeast.

  • MYTH:¬† Tornadoes are ‚Äúattracted to‚ÄĚ mobile homes.

FACT:  The inordinate severity of damage inflicted on trailer parks, compared to conventional homes, can be attributed to the weakness of the building materials commonly used in mobile homes, their lack of foundations, and their small size.

  • MYTH:¬† Large auditoriums are safer during tornadoes than houses.

FACT:  Many studies have concluded that large-span structures, such as auditoriums and gymnasiums, are vulnerable to high winds because of their high surface area. As such, these buildings should be avoided.

  • MYTH:¬† Tornadoes do not strike cities.

FACT:  This myth is based on the comparatively small area occupied by downtown areas, which make them uncommon targets for tornadoes. Also, the urban heat-island effect may discourage the formation of weaker tornadoes. Significant tornadoes are unaffected by turbulent warm air, however, and EF4 and EF5 tornadoes have struck Atlanta, Georgia, Lubbock, Texas and even London, England.

  • MYTH:¬† Mountains, lakes and rivers are significant barriers against tornadoes.

FACT:  Tornadoes have formed over rivers and lakes, and more than a dozen have crossed over the Mississippi River. Twisters have been observed as high as 12,000 feet (3,700 meters) above sea level and ascend 3,000-foot (910 meter) ridges without slowing down.

Damage to Homes

While much tornado destruction is obvious, some of the damage is only apparent upon closer inspection. Even an insurance adjuster can miss critical structural and safety defects that may cost the homeowner a fortune to repair.¬† According to CNN, a jury found that a major insurer acted ‚Äúrecklessly and with malice‚ÄĚ while handling insurance claims resulting from the 1999 Oklahoma tornado, which posed serious safety defects to the building‚Äôs occupants. An unbiased and comprehensive assessment of the damage inflicted on a home by a tornado can be obtained by hiring an InterNACHI inspector. Read InterNACHI‚Äôs article on¬†Emergency Preparedness¬†to find out what to do after an emergency

Specifically, the following elements should be inspected for damage:

  • gas leaks. Uprooted trees may have damaged underground gas pipes, which can lead to deadly fires;
  • electrical damage. Electrical equipment should be dried and checked before being returned to service. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell burning insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call a utility repairperson or an electrician first for advice;
  • plumbing. Tornadoes can easily shake and rattle a home, causing plumbing lines to twist and crack. Following the storm, homeowners can check their plumbing by turning on all plumbing fixtures, checking cabinets for signs of water damage, and checking ceilings from below for staining. Avoid using toilets if sewage lines have been damaged;
  • roof and siding. Cracking, tears and gouges caused to the roof and siding by flying debris will eventually allow for the entry of rainwater and snowmelt. Gable roofs are especially vulnerable to damage from the high wind generated by tornadoes. For additional support, attach wall studs to roof rafters using hurricane clips, not nails;
  • chimney damage. Chimney damage may slow or stop the ventilation of carbon monoxide (CO) ‚Äď a poisonous, colorless, odorless and tasteless gas ‚Äď allowing it to accumulate in the living area. Inspect the chimney closely for damage in a tornado-damaged house. For more information, read InterNACHI‚Äôs article on chimney inspection;
  • windows and gutters. Flying debris can smash windows, damage windowpanes and shutters, rip screens, and dent or tear away gutters;
  • foundation. Strong winds can cause foundations to uplift. Check the perimeter of crawlspaces for any changes and inspect masonry for signs of separation or cracking;
  • interior. Inspect for stress cracks in the corners where walls and ceilings meet, and especially the areas above windows and doors. Use a level to check for cupping of the floor and bowing of the walls. Water stains and mold on interior walls may appear some time after the tornado, indicating overlooked damage to the roof that has permitted moisture intrusion; and
  • garage doors. Due to their large surface area, garage doors can be damaged or blown in before other parts of the house are damaged. The wind may then damage the interior and accelerate the home‚Äôs collapse. Garage door system technicians can be hired to install horizontal bracing, impact-resistant coverings, and strengthen weak hinges and glider wheel tracks. Old or damaged doors should be replaced.

Tips for Clients

If a tornado is in your area, immediately take shelter indoors, preferably in a basement or first-floor room, closet, hallway, or the void beneath a stairwell. Bathrooms are generally safe, as plumbing fixtures strengthen the walls and anchor them to the ground, and bathtubs can protect against flying debris. Crouch face down beneath a heavy table or workbench, and cover your head with your hands to protect against falling debris.  Do not leave the building until the storm has passed. If possible, cover yourself with some sort of thick padding, such as blankets or a mattress.

Also, avoid the following areas:

  • rooms with many windows. Before any other part of the house fails, windows typically shatter and allow the entry of dangerous projectiles, such as broken masonry and gravel, in addition to glass shards from the window itself;
  • rooms with exterior walls. Exterior walls will fail before interior walls, which often survive intact;
  • under heavy objects that are located on the floor above. A piano or refrigerator may fall through a weakened floor and crush anything below; and
  • mobile homes. Only 10% of Americans live in mobile homes but nearly half of all tornado fatalities happen in them. Mobile homes that are not tied down can be flipped in 60- to 70-mph winds, and even small tornadoes can cause them to completely disintegrate, leaving occupants unprotected. Leave a mobile home immediately and seek shelter elsewhere. If none can be found, lie flat in the nearest ditch with your hands shielding your head.

InterNACHI Inspectors may pass on the following tips to their clients:

  • Watch for atmospheric conditions that accompany tornadoes, such as a dark, greenish sky, large hailstones, a cloud of debris, a roaring noise, or a lowering, spinning storm cloud.
  • Monitor the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on the radio or TV and listen for tornado advisories. A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for a tornado to form, while a tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted or detected on radar.
  • If a tornado is approaching, shut off the water either at the main meter or at the water main that leads into the home.
  • Before a storm, shut off the electricity, as sparks from electrical switches could ignite gas and cause an explosion.
  • Keep all hazardous materials, such as poisons and chemical solvents, stored in a secure area away from emergency food and water supplies.
  • Arrange furniture so that chairs and beds are away from windows, mirrors and picture frames.
  • Secure top-heavy, freestanding furniture, such as bookcases and China cabinets, with L-brackets, corner brackets, eyebolts, flexible cable or braided wire, and place heavy items on the bottom shelves. ¬†This is an advisable safety precaution in general for families with small children and those who reside in earthquake-prone regions.
  • Keep a disaster supply kit on hand. It should include a first-aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries, essential medicines, a battery-operated radio, emergency food and water, and a hand-held can opener.
  • Install a safe room or storm shelter in or near the house. Read more about these in InterNACHI‚Äôs article on¬†Safe Rooms.
  • Following a storm, do not use matches, lighters or appliances or operate light switches until you are sure there are no gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a hissing noise, open a window and leave the building as quickly as possible. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. Wait for a professional to turn the gas back on.
  • Read InterNACHI‚Äôs article on¬†Emergency Preparedness¬†to find out what to do before and after an emergency.
In summary, tornadoes are devastating and unpredictable, but a little knowledge concerning their basic behavior can save lives.  InterNACHI inspectors and their clients can benefit by being aware and prepared in order to protect both their families and their properties.

10 Easy Ways to Save Money & Energy In Your Home

by Nick Gromicko, Ben Gromicko, and Kenton Shepard
Save Money and Energy Most people don‚Äôt know how easy it is to make their homes run on less energy, and here at Hero Home Inspection with InterNACHI’s help, we want to change that.

Drastic reductions in heating, cooling and electricity costs can be accomplished through very simple changes, most of which homeowners can do themselves. Of course, for homeowners who want to take advantage of the most up-to-date knowledge and systems in home energy efficiency, InterNACHI energy auditors can perform in-depth testing to find the best energy solutions for your particular home.

Why make your home more energy efficient? Here are a few good reasons:

  • Federal, state, utility and local jurisdictions’ financial incentives, such as tax breaks, are very advantageous for homeowners¬†in most parts of the U.S.
  • It saves money. It costs less to power a home that has been converted to be more energy-efficient.
  • It increases the comfort level indoors.
  • It reduces¬†our¬†impact¬†on climate change. Many scientists now believe that excessive energy consumption contributes significantly to global warming.
  • It reduces pollution. Conventional power production introduces pollutants that find their way into the air, soil and water supplies.

1. Find better ways to heat and cool your house. 

As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy bills can be reduced through adjustments to the heating and cooling systems:

  • Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be used in place of air conditioners, which require a large amount of energy.
  • Periodically replace air filters in air conditioners and heaters.
  • Set thermostats to an appropriate temperature. Specifically, they should be turned down at night and when no one is home. In most homes, about 2% of the heating bill will be saved for each degree that the thermostat is lowered for at least¬†eight hours each day. Turning down the thermostat from 75¬į F to 70¬į F, for example, saves about 10% on heating costs.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat saves money by allowing heating¬†and cooling appliances to be automatically turned down during times¬†that no one is home and at night. Programmable thermostats contain no mercury and, in some climate zones, can save up to $150 per year in energy costs.
  • Install a wood stove or a pellet stove. These are more efficient sources of heat than furnaces.
  • At night, curtains drawn over windows will better insulate the room.

2. Install a tankless water heater.

Demand-type water heaters¬†(tankless or instantaneous) provide hot water only as it is needed. They don’t produce the standby energy losses associated with traditional storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs.¬†Tankless water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit.¬†A gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don’t need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water.

3. Replace incandescent lights.

Save Money LightbulbThe average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), can reduce the energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time that lights are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and LEDs:

  • CFLs use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
  • LEDs last even¬†longer than CFLs and consume less energy.
  • LEDs have no moving parts and, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury.

4. Seal and insulate your home.

Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy-efficient, and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills. An InterNACHI energy auditor can assess  leakage in the building envelope and recommend fixes that will dramatically increase comfort and energy savings.

The following are some common places where leakage may occur:

  • electrical receptacles/outlets;
  • mail slots;
  • around pipes and wires;
  • wall- or window-mounted air conditioners;
  • attic hatches;
  • fireplace dampers;
  • inadequate weatherstripping around doors;
  • baseboards;
  • window frames; and
  • switch plates.

Because hot air rises, air leaks are most likely to occur in the attic. Homeowners can perform a variety of repairs and maintenance to their attics that save them money on cooling and heating, such as:

  • Plug the large holes. Locations in the attic where leakage is most likely to be the greatest are where walls meet the attic floor, behind and under attic knee walls, and in dropped-ceiling areas.
  • Seal the small holes. You can easily do this by looking for areas where the insulation is darkened. Darkened insulation is a result of dusty interior air being filtered by insulation before leaking through small holes in the building envelope. In cold weather, you may see frosty areas in the insulation caused by warm, moist air condensing and then freezing as it hits the cold attic air. In warmer weather, you‚Äôll find water staining in these same areas. Use expanding foam or caulk to seal the openings around plumbing vent pipes¬†and electrical wires. Cover the areas with insulation after the caulk is dry.
  • Seal up the attic access panel with weatherstripping. You can cut a piece of fiberglass or rigid foamboard insulation in¬†the same size as the attic hatch and glue it to the back of the attic access panel. If you have pull-down attic stairs or an attic door, these should be sealed in a similar manner.

5. Install efficient showerheads and toilets.

The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage in homes:

  • low-flow showerheads.¬†They are available in different flow rates, and some have a pause button which shuts off the water while the bather lathers up;
  • low-flow toilets. Toilets consume 30% to 40% of the total water used in homes, making them the biggest water users. Replacing an older 3.5-gallon toilet with a modern, low-flow 1.6-gallon toilet can¬†reduce usage¬†an average of¬†2 gallons-per-flush (GPF), saving 12,000 gallons of water per year. Low-flow toilets usually have “1.6 GPF” marked on the bowl behind the seat or inside the tank;
  • vacuum-assist toilets.¬†This type of¬†toilet has a vacuum chamber¬†that uses a siphon action to suck air from the trap beneath the bowl, allowing it to quickly fill with water to clear waste. Vacuum-assist toilets are relatively quiet; and
  • dual-flush toilets. Dual-flush toilets have been used in Europe and Australia for years¬†and are now gaining in popularity in the U.S. Dual-flush toilets let you choose between a 1-gallon (or less) flush for liquid waste, and a 1.6-gallon flush for solid waste. Dual-flush 1.6-GPF toilets reduce water consumption by an additional 30%.

6. Use appliances and electronics responsibly.

Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household energy bills in a typical U.S. home. The following are tips that will reduce the required energy of electronics and appliances:

  • Refrigerators and freezers should not be located near the stove, dishwasher or heat vents, or exposed to direct sunlight. Exposure to warm areas will force them to use more energy to remain cool.
  • Computers should be shut off when not in use. If unattended computers must be left on, their monitors should be shut off. According to some studies, computers account for approximately 3% of all energy consumption in the United States.
  • Use efficient ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and electronics. These devices, approved by the¬†U.S. Department of¬†Energy¬†and the Environmental Protection Agency‚Äôs ENERGY STAR¬†Program,¬†include TVs, home theater systems, DVD players, CD players, receivers, speakers, and more. According to the EPA, if just 10% of homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 1.7 million acres of trees.
  • Chargers, such as those used¬†for laptops and cell phones, consume energy when they are plugged in. When they are not connected to electronics, chargers should be unplugged.
  • Laptop computers consume considerably less electricity than desktop computers.

7. Install daylighting as an alternative to electrical lighting.

Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate the home’s interior. It can be achieved using the following approaches:

  • skylights. It‚Äôs important that they be double-pane or they may not be cost-effective. Flashing skylights correctly is key to avoiding leaks;
  • light shelves. Light shelves are passive devices designed to bounce light deep into a building. They may be interior or exterior. Light shelves can introduce light into a space up to 2¬Ĺ times the distance from the floor to the top of the window, and advanced light shelves may introduce¬†four times that amount;
  • clerestory windows.¬† Clerestory windows are short, wide windows set high on the wall. Protected from the summer sun by the roof overhang, they allow winter sun to shine through for natural lighting and warmth; and
  • light tubes.¬† Light tubes use a special lens designed to amplify low-level light and reduce light intensity from the midday sun. Sunlight is channeled through a tube coated with a highly reflective material, and then enters the living space through a diffuser designed to distribute light evenly.

8. Insulate windows and doors.

About one-third of the home’s total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy lost through windows and doors:

  • Seal all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. This is the cheapest and simplest option.
  • Windows can be weatherstripped with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. For doors, apply weatherstripping around the whole perimeter to ensure a tight seal when they’re closed. Install quality door sweeps on the bottom of the doors, if they aren’t already in place.
  • Install storm windows at windows with only single panes. A removable glass frame can be installed over an existing window.
  • If existing windows have rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don’t work, they should be repaired or replaced.

9. Cook smart.

An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The following recommendations and statistics illustrate less wasteful ways of cooking:

  • Convection ovens are more efficient that conventional ovens. They use fans to force hot air to circulate more evenly, thereby allowing food to be cooked at a lower temperature. Convection ovens use approximately 20% less electricity than conventional ovens.
  • Microwave ovens consume approximately 80% less energy than conventional ovens.
  • Pans should be placed on the matching size heating element or flame.
  • Using lids on pots and pans will heat food¬†more quickly than cooking in uncovered pots and pans.
  • Pressure cookers reduce cooking time dramatically.
  • When using conventional ovens, food should be placed on the top rack. The top rack is hotter and will cook food faster.

10. Change the way you do laundry.

  • Do not use the medium setting on your washer. Wait until you have a full load of clothes, as the¬†medium setting¬†saves less than half of the water¬†and energy used for a full load.
  • Avoid using high-temperature settings when clothes are not very soiled. Water that is 140¬į F uses far more energy than 103¬į F for the warm-water setting, but 140¬į F isn‚Äôt that much¬†more effective¬†for getting clothes clean.
  • Clean the lint trap every time¬†before you use the dryer. Not only is excess lint a fire hazard, but it will prolong the amount of time required for your clothes to dry.
  • If possible, air-dry your clothes on lines¬†and racks.
  • Spin-dry or wring clothes out¬†before putting them into a dryer.

Buying a Foreclosure: Yay or No Way?

 Purchasing foreclosed homes in desirable areas at below-market values can be a sound investment strategy. Appreciation on their original prices may be tax-free.  Buying foreclosed rental properties can provide positive cash flow, as well as valuable tax deductions. On the other hand, buying a foreclosure involves homework, patience, and a certain amount of luck. For those wishing to get a bargain house through the foreclosure process, it’s best to learn the basics.Foreclosed homes are often sold at auction

Four Ways to Buy a Foreclosed Home

  • A¬†presale¬†is when¬†the prospective buyer negotiates with the current owner before the house is foreclosed upon. Presale discounts can be considerable, but communicating and reasoning with the owner isn‚Äôt always easy; they might have legal problems, lost their phone service or electricity, or greet you with suspicion, having already been hounded and threatened by creditors. And after¬†time and energy have been invested, the deal can fall through¬†if the owner comes up with the money to repay their debt, or for any number of unexpected reasons. With persistence, however, the seasoned real estate investor can profit from presales. To find out about presales, you can try one of the following avenues:
    • Ask your local county court how to search new notices of default.
    • Find out if the County Recorder has data available online.
    • Look in the “legal notices” section of the newspaper for properties that are coming up for sale at public auction. Take note of the address, the property owner‚Äôs name, the tax ID, and whatever other information is contained in the ad.
  • A foreclosed home may be sold at a¬†public auction,¬†in which buyers can expect a discount of 10% to 25%¬†of market value. Interested bidders are generally required to show proof of financing, and must have a minimum cash deposit before they are qualified to bid. It might be impossible to gain entry to inspect the interior, too, which makes this type of purchase risky. The local building department may have permit records that can clue you in to the building‚Äôs layout and appearance.
  • A¬†real estate-owned (REO) sale¬†is a transaction where¬†a foreclosed house is purchased directly from the bank. These properties typically wound up in the bank‚Äôs portfolio after failing to sell at auction. REO investments are relatively safe, as there are no tenants to evict or hidden liens and, unlike properties sold at public auction, buyers can usually receive a mortgage to pay for them. And¬†purchasers might even get an unused house; the slow economy has left many builders at the end of their construction-loan periods without finding buyers for the homes, in which case the bank will foreclose on the brand new homes. Unfortunately, REOs are usually offered at near-market prices to recoup the costs of property taxes, maintenance and legal fees. To find REOs, try the following:
    • Check lenders‚Äô websites, as they may have a list of their REOs, along with contact information for the appropriate real estate agent.
    • Call lenders and ask to speak to someone who handles their foreclosures.
    • Check newspapers.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development has tens of thousands of¬†HUD homes¬†whose previous owners defaulted on federally issued loans. After a period¬†during which local governments gain exclusive buying privileges, they become available to individual buyers who pledge to live in the property. After another¬†10 days, investors may bid on the property. It‚Äôs difficult to make a profit on these houses, as HUD releases them at near-market values.

Tips for Foreclosure Purchases

  • Invest time in research and preparation. Those new to the field should spend some time learning the¬†variables of foreclosure investing before making any purchases.
  • Budget carefully to prepare for the unexpected. The house may require unforeseen repairs, such as a leaky roof or unstable deck. The price tag of the home itself is often just the first of a series of fees. What if you planned on rental cash flow to cover the mortgage, but you can‚Äôt find a tenant?
  • Avoid buying a foreclosure¬†sight-unseen. Try to see the house yourself before buying it, or hire someone to evaluate at it in your absence. Distant investors are buying up properties unseen in bulk, and they‚Äôre often unpleasantly surprised at how much they‚Äôve been misled.
  • Evaluate the neighborhood. If the foreclosure is rife with problems, but it‚Äôs in a¬†desirable area with high property resale values, it may still be worth it to make a low offer. An area with several foreclosures or a high crime rate can¬†undermine an otherwise good deal, however.
  • Consider how long the house has been vacant. Building damage ‚Äď and the costs required to make the house livable – generally increases with the time that has lapsed¬†since the last tenant vacated. Pests are a particular issue in houses that have been empty for a long time, and plumbing defects and leaks increase in likelihood in such homes, as well.
  • Examine the landscaping. Left unchecked, trees can send their roots into the foundation, and vines can creep into the windows.
  • Has the house been professionally inspected by an InterNACHI inspector? Foreclosures¬†can be¬†notorious for damage suffered at the hands of past tenants, through both inadvertent and intentional vandalism and theft.

 

In summary, there are a number of ways to go about buying a foreclosed home, and buyers should exercise patience, persistence and careful planning before buying foreclosed properties.

Does Your House Have A Face?

An eyebrow dormer, also known as a roof eyebrow, is a wavy dormer that protrudes through the slope of a roof. It contains a window that may be fixed or operable.
Eyebrow dormers add beauty, function and value to this home
The first eyebrow dormers appeared on medieval thatch-roofed cottages, making¬†their way to America in the second half of the 19th century on Queen Anne-style houses after being popularized by Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson. Today, roof eyebrows can be found on many different types of homes, from post-modern beach homes to converted-garage guest cottages. They are most commonly found on the attic, although they‚Äôre sometimes incorporated into basements, garages¬†and additions. Their designs, too, can vary from tall half-rounds to gentle “ocean waves”¬†and geodesic domes. Construction is difficult, however, as most require tricky framing and roofing, as well as a custom-made sash.

The advantages offered by eyebrow dormers, and dormers in general (such as shed dormers), are a mix of aesthetics and function; they provide a curvaceous, subtle way to bring light into a building and ventilate the top-floor space while breaking up the monotony of an otherwise angular roof or flat, interior ceiling. Through these design features, occupants can gaze across their yard or see who is coming up the driveway. Occupants also enjoy additional headroom in certain areas without having to raise the building’s primary roofline. And, as with any design feature that adds elegance and utility to a home, eyebrow dormers typically improve the home’s resale value.

Eyebrow dormers are not usually problem areas, although shoddy roof work is probably more likely here than at the rest of the roof due to the expert handiwork required to put them together competently. Leaking might be an issue because eyebrow dormers are often shingled separately from the rest of the roof, so it’s possible that the Eyebrow dormer with visible paint chippingconnection between the two is a weak point for running rainwater. They can be inspected for water intrusion around the interior and exterior of the window. Note the chipped paint and general wear suffered by the eyebrow dormer in the photo to the right. Any water intrusion should be reported to an InterNACHI inspector during the next scheduled inspection so that the location can be inspected for mold and damage to building components. Inspectors and roofers should be extra careful while traversing roofs that include eyebrow dormers, as their undulating slope can allow for a deadly loss of footing.

Specialty dormers are usually quite expensive. In construction, anything that deviates from a straight line will cost extra. If the window is an unusual shape, it’s going to need to be custom-made and it will cost even more. In addition to the expense of a curved window, the inside of the eyebrow will need to be finished, and the exterior must be roofed around a tricky geometric shape. An eyebrow may cost the homeowner more than $10,000 if it’s a large retrofit, although the price will be somewhat less if it is incorporated into the building’s original construction. Regardless, eyebrows will typically cost several times as much as a skylight, a common design alternative.

In summary, eyebrow dormers add class to a building without requiring a dramatic change in architecture. Such unusual exterior design features in buildings and homes should be checked for flashing defects, water intrusion and other problems that custom features can present.

Garage Doors & Openers: Everything You Need to Know

Garage doors are large, spring-supported doors. Garage door openers control the opening and closing of garage doors, either through a wall-mounted switch or a radio transmitter. Due to the strain that garage door components and openers regularly endure, they may become defective over time and need to be fixed or replaced. Defective components may create safety hazards as well as functional deficiencies to the garage door assembly.

The following facts demonstrate the dangers posed by garage doors:
  • Garage doors are typically among the heaviest moving objects in the home and are held under high tension.
  • Injuries caused by garage doors account for approximately 20,000 emergency room visits annually, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • The majority of the injuries caused by garage doors are the result of pinched fingers, although severe injuries and deaths due to entrapment occur as well. Sixty children have been killed since 1982 as a result of garage doors that did not automatically reverse upon contact.

Inspectors should not attempt to fix any garage door defects they may encounter. They should call out defects in their reports and recommend that the door be examined by a trained garage door technician. The following components should be present during inspections and devoid of defects:

  • manual (emergency) release handle. All garage doors should be equipped with this device, which will detach the door from the door opener when activated. It is vital during emergency situations, such as when a person becomes trapped beneath the door or when a power outage cuts electricity to the door opener. Inspectors should activate the handle to make sure that it works, although they will have to reset the handle if it does not reset automatically. In order for the handle to be accessible and obvious, it must be‚Ķ
  1. colored red;
  2. easily distinguishable from rest of the garage opener system; and
  3. no more than 6 feet above the standing surface.
  • door panels. Both sides of the door should be examined for the following:
  1. fatigue;
  2. cracking and dents. Aluminum doors are especially vulnerable to denting; and
  3. separation of materials.
  • warning labels. The following four warning labels should be present on or around garage door assemblies:
  1. a spring warning label, attached to the spring assembly;
  2. a general warning label, attached to the back of the door panel;
  3. a warning label attached to the wall in the vicinity of the wall control button, and;
  4. a tension warning label, attached to garage door’s bottom bracket.
  • brackets and roller shafts.
    1. Brackets. The garage door opener is connected to the garage door by a bracket that is essential to the function of the door opener system. Placement of the bracket where it attaches to the door is crucial to the operation of its safety features. It should attach 3 to 6 inches from the top of the door. This bracket, as well as all other brackets, should be securely attached to their surfaces.
    2. Roller shafts. Roller shafts should be longer on the top and bottom rollers. The top rollers are the most important. Without longer shafts, if one side of the door hangs up, the door may fall out of the opening.
  • door operation. The door‚Äôs operation can be tested by raising the door manually, grasping the door‚Äôs handles if it has them. Inspectors can make sure that the door:
    1. moves freely;
    2. does not open or close too quickly; and
    3. opens and closes without difficulty.

Note:  Inspectors should not operate the door until they have inspected the track mounts and bracing. Doors have been known to fall on people and cars when they were operated with tracks that were not securely attached and supported.

  • extension spring containment cables. Older garage doors may use extension springs to counter-balance the weight of the door. These require a containment cable inside the spring to prevent broken parts from being propelled around the garage if the spring snaps. Most new garages use shaft-mounted torsion springs that do not require containment cables.
  • wall-mounted switch. This device must be present and positioned as high as is practical above the standing surface (at least five feet as measured from the bottom of the switch) so that children do not gain access.

In addition, the button must:

  1.    be mounted in clear view of the garage door; and
  2.    be mounted away from moving parts.

Important note:  InterNACHI inspectors should always make sure to disable the manual lock on the garage door before activating the switch.

  • automatic reverse system. As of 1991, garage doors are required to be equipped with a mechanism that automatically reverses the door if it comes in contact with an object. It is important that the door reverses direction and opens completely, rather than merely halting. If a garage door fails this test, inspectors should note it in their reports. A dial on the garage door opener controls the amount of pressure required to trigger the door to reverse. This dial can be adjusted by a qualified garage door technician if necessary.

Methods for testing the automatic reverse system:

  1. This safety feature can be tested by grasping the base of the garage door as it closes and applying upward resistance. Inspectors should use caution while performing this test because they may accidentally damage its components if the door does not reverse course.
  2. Some sources recommend placing a 2×4 piece of wood on the ground beneath the door, although there have been instances where this testing method has damaged the door or door opener components.
  • supplemental automatic reverse system. Garage doors manufactured in the U.S. after 1992 must be equipped with photoelectric sensors or a door
    edge sensor.

    1. Photoelectric eyes. These eyes (also known as photoelectric sensors) are located at the base of each side of the garage door and emit and detect beams of light. If this beam is broken, it will cause the door to immediately reverse direction and open. For safety reasons, photo sensors must be installed a maximum of 6 inches above the standing surface.
    2. Door edge sensors. This device is a pressure-sensitive strip installed at the base of the garage door. If it senses pressure from an object while the door is closing, it will cause the door to reverse. Door edge sensors are not as common in garage door systems as photoelectric eyes.
 
Safety Advice for Clients:
  • Homeowners should not attempt to adjust or repair springs themselves. The springs are held under extremely high tension and can snap suddenly and forcefully, causing serious or fatal injury.
  • No one should stand or walk beneath a garage door while it is in motion. Adults should set an example for children and teach them about garage door safety. Children should not be permitted to operate the garage door opener push button and should be warned against touching any of the door‚Äôs moving parts.
  • Fingers and hands should be kept away from pulleys, hinges and springs, and the intersection points between door panels. Closing doors can very easily crush body parts that get between them.
  • The automatic reversal system may need to be adjusted for cold temperatures, since the flexibility of the springs is affected by temperature. This adjustment can be made from a dial on the garage door opener, which should be changed only by a trained garage door technician.
In summary, garage doors and their openers can be hazardous if certain components are missing or defective. Inspectors should understand these dangers and be prepared to offer useful safety tips to their clients.

IR Cameras: Inspection Roofs

by Nick Gromicko and Ethan Ward

Since the 1970s, infrared (IR) thermography, or thermal imaging, has been used for inspecting flat and low-slope roofs to check for moisture entrapment.  Employing IR cameras for home and commercial roof inspections is on the rise, with millions of square feet now being inspected using this technology every year.

Replacing damaged roofs can cost as much as $8 to $10 per square foot, and billions of dollars are lost every year because of premature roof failure.  The main causes of premature roof failure and high maintenance costs are moisture intrusion and undetected wet insulation inside the roofing system.  Because thermal imaging makes apparent temperature differences viewable, it is excellent at finding moisture and then documenting problem areas during roof inspections.  The roof absorbs heat during the day and releases it when the temperature falls later.  Wet areas release heat slower than dry areas.  Because of this, the wet and dry areas are readily viewable in a thermal image, which displays apparent temperature differences as gradient colors.

Inspectors can familiarize themselves with this application of thermal imaging to expand their IR services to diagnose problem areas on roofs that have trapped moisture, which can lead to structural problems and expensive repairs.

Advantages of Using IR Imaging for Roofs

Thermal imaging is non-invasive and allows inspectors to scan large areas very quickly.¬† More traditional methods require a grid-type contact search, which is very time-consuming for inspectors who choose to walk a roof for inspections.¬† Core sampling¬†and other invasive testing¬†are destructive and beyond InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice.¬† Using an infrared camera to locate areas of moisture intrusion and wet insulation¬†is quick, accurate and inexpensive compared to other methods.¬† Since IR imaging allows problem areas to be located before severe symptoms appear, significant damage can be avoided by catching and addressing issues as they develop.¬†¬†Thermal imaging can also be performed from an elevated vantage point, allowing an even greater¬†area to be examined at once, and eliminating the need to lug equipment up and down various roof elevations.
Here‚Äės a list of advantages¬†of using an IR camera for roof inspections:
  • It’s fast and accurate.
  • It can identify small problem areas before they become larger.
  • It provides a thorough assessment of compromised and damaged areas.
  • IR equipment is lightweight and portable.
  • It provides visual documentation of problems.
  • It is non-invasive.
  • It can be used¬†for inspections that are conducted as part of regular home maintenance.

There are few disadvantages to using thermal imaging¬†for inspecting a roof.¬† The main things to be aware of are the roof’s composition and the¬†weather conditions.¬† Both of these factors can influence the ability of infrared technology¬†to provide accurate and¬†useful information.

Weather Conditions

Though the principles involved are the same, detecting moisture intrusion using an IR camera is different for inspecting a roof compared to detecting moisture intrusion at the interior because exterior environmental factors play a larger role in determining whether the data can be accurately collected.  Because of this, it is important to conduct IR roof inspections   under optimum weather conditions. 
There are four weather-related factors that can influence exterior surface temperatures over a roof’s wet areas compared to dry areas.¬† They are:
  • the difference between interior and exterior temperatures;
  • the rate of temperature change in the hours before viewing the thermal images;
  • the amount of solar loading; and
  • wind speed.
The best weather conditions for conducting an infrared roof inspection include:
  • winds of¬†less than 15 mph;
  • sunny and clear conditions on the¬†day prior to the¬†inspection; and
  • a quick decrease in the ambient temperature right before collecting images.

An infrared inspection during warm weather relies on solar loading to create the apparent temperature difference between wet and dry spots, and is best performed at dusk, when the difference will be most extreme.  Imaging during cold months is made possible by creating a large inside-to-outside temperature difference in the building, which is another way to allow the wet and dry spots to be viewed.

Roofing-Covering Materials

It is important for inspectors to know the composition of the roof to be inspected with an IR camera because the¬†roof-covering materials affect how well thermal imaging¬†can detect moisture.¬† Most common materials pose no problems.¬† Any commercially available rigid insulation¬†board, as well as composite boards and tapered systems made from the same materials, can be “read” through thermal imaging.¬† This includes organic fibers, perlite, cork, fiberglass, cellular glass, polystyrene, polyurethane, isocyanurate and phenolic insulation materials.

Inverted roof membrane assemblies with extruded polystyrene insulation between the ballast and protective membrane are poor candidates for thermal imaging inspection, although they are not common.  Some other construction types that can pose problems include roofs with concrete pavers, roofs with lightweight concrete or gypsum, and highly reflective metal roofs.  Infrared imaging can still be used in many of these cases, though it may be more difficult to read the images.

Inspection Tips

It is best to have completed a visual inspection of the roof prior to thermal imaging to determine the most effective procedure for collecting images, as well as to identify access points, safety hazards, and any heat sources beneath the roof that may show up during imaging.  The attic and underside of the roof can also be examined in order to note any conditions that may affect imaging, and to identify potential problem areas that can be confirmed later using a moisture meter and further investigation.
It is helpful to know the design and composition of the roof, as well as exactly what type of insulation has been installed.  This will help determine how thermal imaging can be best employed to gather data.  If possible, knowing a little about the history of the roof in relation to any previous problems can also be beneficial.  Note the flashing and penetration details, as moisture intrusion at these points may indicate inadequate or missing installations.
Set up the IR camera so that¬†large sections of the roof can be viewed successively.¬† The angle for viewing is best at greater than 20¬į from the roof’s surface.¬† As wet spots are located by apparent temperature differences¬†from surrounding dry spots, they can be examined more closely.¬† A moisture meter will help confirm these areas as problems.¬† Once the problem spots are located, they can be documented by taking an image¬†with the infrared camera to include in the inspection report alongside¬†a digital photo.¬† These spots can also be marked on the roof with chalk¬†so that¬†they will be easy to find again later while plans for repairs are being developed.
Inspectors can benefit greatly from utilizing IR technology in the field for roof inspections, potentially saving property owners the cost of expensive repairs.
Consumers should always seek inspectors who are Infrared Certified by looking for the Infrared Certified logo below.