Mothers day

M is for the million things she gave me

O means only that she’s growing old

T is for the tears she shed to save me

H is for her heart of purest gold

E is for her eyes with love light shining

R means right and right she’ll always be

Put them all together they spell mother

A word that means the world to me
Howard Johnson

“Love is patient, love is kind, it does not boast…”

Mom didn’t teach me the words, she showed me.

Mom didn’t drive when we were little, but she would of taken the streetcar across country if the need arose. She rode the streetcar to care for her parents, rode it again to care for her aunts. Welcomed each of the grandparents in turn into the home as it became necessary.

Mom came from an ‘extended’ family. They were always extending themselves to others in need and so mom extended ours. With three boys and two girls it didn’t need a lot of extension.

Our family, past and present, ancestors and descendants always shared that secret ingredient that Mom excelled at, LOVE.

Are You Winterized?

My Grandfather and then my father seemed like they wore sweaters pretty much all year as they got older.  You could say they were ‘winterized,’ but that’s not what I’m asking.

As a youngster growing up in a non-air conditioned house, winterized meant the screens were taken off the windows and the storm windows were installed.  The furnace was serviced and the boiler lit.  If you’re a home owner already the term “winterized’ may mean something similar to you.

My concern as a home inspector though deals with those homes that have had their electricity and water turned off to save money during an extended vacancy.  Usually bank owned properties.

On more than one occasion I have scheduled an inspection for a client only to find out that the home has been ‘winterized.’  Hopefully I can find this out before the scheduled time has arrived and the inspection can be postponed until such time as the utilities have been restored.

A Home Inspector simply cannot perform a thorough inspection without running water or electricity.  Toilets can’t be flushed, faucets cannot be operated to check for proper water flow, and with nothing to drain… well you can’t very well check for proper drainage or leaks.

No electricity, no heat, hence the reason the water was turned off to start with; to prevent the pipes from freezing. So now the Home Inspector can’t check outlets, switches, light fixtures, appliances, garage door openers…the list goes on.  Wouldn’t you like to know if your heat or air conditioning actually operates?  We forget how much we depend on the daily convenience of all these things.

Despite all the precautions taken to prevent pipe freezing when the electricity is turned off (typically an anti-freeze is added to the water remaining in the pipes), a house I was contracted to inspect recently suffered broken pipes when the water was restored.  The necessary repairs created over a month of delay before a home inspection could be performed.

Now you know the reason a Home Inspector will not turn on the utilities in a ‘winterized’ home.  It is the seller’s responsibility to insure utilities are turned on at the time of inspection and make any repairs should damage occur.

Inspecting a house without these items, well. . .it’s not really inspecting a house!

Bob

Carbon Monoxide in your home?

Many of us are familiar with the poisonous fumes of automobile exhaust as carbon monoxide. One carbon atom joined to one oxygen atom its molecular abbreviation is easily recognized as the letters CO.

Now before we go too far it’s important to recognize that CO is a colorless, odorless gas. Completely invisible it is not to be confused with the visible water vapor or oil smoke associated with car exhaust. Just as important is the fact that CO is a byproduct of incomplete combustion. Any combustion, so this includes any fuel burning device or appliance in your home.

Fuels that are most often burned inside the home are heating oil, natural gas, propane, wood, and some years ago coal.

The most obvious appliance to burn any fuel is the home furnace or boiler and if you heat your home with wood then a wood stove or fireplace. Gas cooking ranges and ovens can be fueled either by natural gas or propane as can be your water heater which might alternately be fueled by oil.

Did you know that your gas dryer’s combustion exhaust is vented through the same four inch duct as the moist air? It is essential here to use a metal foil duct.

For the most part all of these devices are vented through a chimney in some way to the outdoors. A negative pressure in the home or an equipment malfunction (flue damage) can occur which does not allow the combustion gasses from these appliances to vent properly. Should this happen a working CO detector can save your families’ life.

The place to put your CO detector is in the hallway outside the bedrooms or one in each bedroom. Yes, I know the furnace is not in your bedroom, but the time when you are most susceptible to CO poisoning will be when you are asleep. While you are asleep your air handler will distribute the CO, should any occur, to the various bedrooms. This might happen in either a heating or cooling situation, you will want the earliest possible alarm so you can move your family to fresh air (outside) and call someone to correct the problem.

Take a moment this evening to consider your homes fuel burning appliances. Install a CO detector, readily available at all the lumber outlets, outside of the sleeping areas for your families’ protection.

Visit me at: http://www.IndependentHomeInspectionMD.com for more information on this and other safety items in the home.

Building Codes

Building codes represent minimum safe standards of design and construction required by a local municipality. Differences in code from one location to another reflect the varying needs and demographics of each area.

As a home inspector my concern for building codes is not for their enforcement, but rather the safety standards they represent. As a home buyer you will want to insure that your family is protected by the most current safety standards.

Housing needs have changed over the years as technologies and materials have changed. In the post WWII building boom no one could have anticipated the vast array of electrical appliances we enjoy today. As a result houses built during those years, current in their time, no longer have a sufficient quantity or style of electrical outlets. Heating systems and insulation that was adequate when fuel was cheap are no longer satisfactory today. Building codes change to reflect the changing needs of modern homeowners.

Many of these systems are invisible to the average home-buyer. Investigating and calling out these disparities is what a good home inspection is all about. It provides a benchmark for comfortable and economical ownership.

No, we don’t enforce building codes, but you will want your family to benefit from current accepted safety standards and the local building codes provide just that reference.

Fathers Day

My father passed away last year and is daily remembered for having taught me the most valuable lesson in life. A difficult lesson and not one that I recognized till years later, my father taught me the meaning of ‘tough love.’

Now many of you reading this will jump to the conclusion that my father compelled me to suffer some great hardship to learn this lesson. That was certainly a popular idea when I was growing up. Force the kids to endure the harsh realities of life.

Exactly the opposite was true. The love he taught me was tough on him, not on me. Countless times he went to bat for me and supported me despite having to sacrifice some of his own pride, personal conviction, or leisure.

After some time when I had been defiant, argumentative or downright combative and he had responded similarly, he came and apologized. Not for my behavior, I came to realize, but for his own, where he thought he had not achieved some standard he held himself to.

The lesson is simple enough. One I’ve needed with my own children and not easy to live up to. Love is sacrifice. I need to give up my own foolish pride, my selfish ambition, my wants, my time, and my self-serving indignation.

The proving ground for this may be your own family as it has been for dad and myself, but the real test is carrying this sacrifice into the world. Something dad excelled at as well, “Love your neighbor as thyself.”

Water Heaters

We expect hot water when we turn the tap handle and have become so accustomed to it that we rarely think about it. In essence it is just another convenience readily taken for granted.

Many of us have seen a recent television commercial depicting a water heater explosion. Although humorous in content and oriented towards loss recovery rather than prevention few of us have considered the real threat of a water heater explosion. It does happen!

The physics of such an event are easy enough to understand. When water is heated it expands. When it is contained pressure increases proportionately with heat. When pressure exceeds the containment vessel ratings; BOOM!

The optimum temperature of a water heater is 120 degrees. This temperature has been tested and recommended to prevent scalding. When properly adjusted a water heater will regulate the heating element to maintain this desired temperature. Note: Water heaters that supply home heat may have higher temperatures and should be supplied with tempering valves to prevent scalding at fixtures.

The first clue you may have to a water heater problem may be a noticeable increase in the temperature of the water. A higher temperature means higher water pressure inside the water heater tank and should be corrected.

An essential safety component of your water heater is the temperature pressure relief valve (TPR). Located at the top of your water heater, where the water is hottest, it is designed to release the hot water in the event that the temperature or pressure exceeds a predetermined safe level (typically 150 psi and 210 degrees F). Proper installation requires that the TPR discharge be directed through a pipe toward the floor and no more than 6 inches from the floor to prevent hazardous discharge.

By now you can see that a number of things must happen together to create an explosion. This can and does happen however, and your awareness should give you a new understanding of the need for qualified service when problems arise.

Independent Home Inspection examines water heater components, age and installation during your Home Inspection. Call for more information. 410-504-3751

visit me at http://www.IndependentHomeInspectionMD.com

Changing Your Filter Will Save You Money & Reduce your Energy Use

Winter is on its way.
Chances are you’ll be running your heat well before the official astronomical date.
Now is a good time to change those furnace filters to ensure your comfort and energy savings during the heating season.
While most of us are aware of our furnaces presence, it is rarely thought of until it doesn’t work as expected. You can save on heating and cooling costs by doing a little maintenance now and ensuring your comfort during the coming season.

Checking your furnace filter will provide you with the following benefits:

>> Help to reduce heating and cooling costs

>> Improve the comfort of your home

>> Protect the heating and cooling equipment

Many programmable thermostats have a function similar to the maintenance reminder on your car which will remember the last time you changed your filter. If your thermostat has this function, don’t forget to reset it after you service your furnace filter.

How often should I check my furnace filter?
Your ‘mileage’ may vary depending on the actual operating time of your air handler, but consider checking it every month as a base to determine your scheduling needs.

Where is my furnace filter located? The filter is usually located in the air return to the furnace which can be on either side of the furnace cabinet. In some cases you may need to remove the furnace cover (face) to access the filter, you will most often be able to do this without tools.

What type of furnace filter should I purchase? The need for clean air in the home has given rise to a wide variety of filter types, including electrostatic, washable and disposable filters. You needn’t ‘re-invent the wheel’ here, chances are the best filter for your installation is already present. Just replace with the same size and type.

How much does a furnace filter cost? Furnace filters can range from $2 to $30 depending on the type of filter you select. The ‘big box’ stores and even many grocery stores carry furnace filters, make sure to buy the correct size. If you prefer the less expensive type of filter buying more than one now will save you future trips.

Helpful Tip: Write down the size of your existing furnace filter in a convenient place before going to purchase a new one (many homeowners write the size directly on the visible portion of the furnace cabinet with permanent markers or on a piece of tape stuck to the cabinet – include the date of service if needed).