Here's the 30 most recent of over 2500 home inspection blog entries. You can also use the Blog Index link above, or search box below, to find the article with the info you need. Also, our Blog Archive lists all the articles, including a reposting and updating of earlier blogs from mcgarryandmadsen.com dating back to 2011.

5

How To Look at a House

recent blogs

Can you put a receptacle outlet in a pantry closet?

Sunday, January 24, 2021
Can you put a receptacle outlet in a pantry closet?

Yes, you can put a receptacle outlet in a pantry, but it is not required by code. Also, if you do put a receptacle in closet, it must be AFCI-protected. For more details, go to our blog posts What is the code requirement for receptacle outlets in a closet? and Where is AFCI required for outlets in a house?      
    Also, check out our other...

Is a doorbell required by code for a house?

Sunday, January 24, 2021
Is a doorbell required by code for a house?

A doorbell is not required for single-family and duplex residences by the International Residential Code (IRC) or the National Electrical Code (NEC). But a doorbell, buzzer, chime, or other signalling device is code-mandated for main entry (egress) doors for each unit in multi-unit residential buildings. Also, see our blog post Can a doorbell transformer...

Can I get hurricane impact-rated windows for a mobile-manufactured home?

Thursday, January 21, 2021
Can I get hurricane impact-rated windows for a mobile-manufactured home?

Mobile homes constructed to be installed in Wind Zone 3 or Exposure D are rated to withstand high winds. Wind Zone 3 is located in the lower third of Florida, where the most severe hurricanes come ashore, and Exposure D (also called “D-Sticker”) is the category for any home installed within 1500 feet of the coastline all around the state—an even more...

Is it normal for a mobile home crawl space to be damp in Florida?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Is it normal for a mobile home crawl space to be damp in Florida?

Most of Florida has plenty of rainfall, especially during the summer months, plus high humidity, so moisture in the soil evaporates continuously from the ground under a mobile home. During periods of high rainfall or after a severe thunderstorm you can expect the soil to damp for several days.This is not a problem as long as there is enough ventilation...

Does my house need a heating system to pass a four point inspection?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Does my house need a heating system to pass a four point inspection?

Yes, a heating system is required and it must be “installed,” which means that a portable room space heater or a window air conditioner with a heating element is not acceptable. Here’s an example below from the Citizens Insurance four point inspection form.

    Also, see our blog posts What causes a house to fail a four point inspection? and...

Does a house need to have a back door?

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Does a house need to have a back door?

An exterior exit door is called an “egress” door by the building code and a second one is a good idea, both for convenience and having an alterna route out of the home for fire safety. But it is not required by the International Residential Code (IRC-R311.1) or the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code. Go to our blog post How many exit...

Can the total amps of all the breakers in an electrical panel be more than the amperage rating of the panel?

Monday, January 18, 2021
Can the total amps of all the breakers in an electrical panel be more than the amperage rating of the panel?

Yes, the total amps of all the breakers in a panel can exceed the amperage rating of the panel. There are a couple of reasons why this is allowed. First, every appliance and other load in a home is not turned on at the same time. And second, breakers for some appliances are rated at much more than the appliance uses when operating. A three-ton air...

ELECTRICAL - OLD AND OBSOLETE

Sunday, January 17, 2021
ELECTRICAL - OLD AND OBSOLETE

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about OLD AND OBSOLETE ELECTRICAL:
• What is rag wiring? 
• Is all cloth wiring dangerous? 
• When did they stop using aluminum wiring? 
• Is tinned copper wire safe? 
• Why is there a 3-phase breaker in a single phase electric panel with only two bus bars? 
• When did knob...

How old is a Pushmatic electrical panel? Is it safe?

Sunday, January 17, 2021
How old is a Pushmatic electrical panel? Is it safe?

Although the Pushmatic breaker design was first produced in the late 1930s, most panels and breakers date from about 1950 through 1970. We have heard that they were manufactured up until the mid-1980s, but have never seen a Pushmatic in a home built after the '60s. So any panel still around is a minimum of 50 years old, and probably much more. We...

How old is a Walker EQ Load Center electrical panel? Is it unsafe?

Thursday, January 14, 2021
How old is a Walker EQ Load Center electrical panel? Is it unsafe?

The Walker Electrical Company was founded by Ralph Walker in 1939 in Atlanta, Georgia. It was absorbed by I-T-E sometime in the 1950s, and then I-T-E itself went through several mergers beginning in 1968, and was eventually acquired by Siemens. The Walker brand appears to have been abandoned in the late 1960s, so any panel with a Walker namplate is...

When were gas water heaters first required to be FVIR (Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant)?

Monday, January 11, 2021
When were gas water heaters first required to be FVIR (Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant)?

All 30, 40, and 50 gallon gas-fired water heaters manufactured after July 1, 2003 have been required to have Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant (FVIR) technology, as a result of design changes mandated by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). It’s also worth noting that a group of manufacturers helped develop the standards and began voluntary...

When did Florida start requiring re-nailing of roof deck sheathing for a roof replacement?

Monday, January 11, 2021
When did Florida start requiring re-nailing of roof deck sheathing for a roof replacement?

The requirement for re-nailing roof sheathing for a roof replacement became effective on October 1, 2007. When you replace a roof on a home that was built before the implementation of the statewide Florida Building Code on March 1, 2002, the nailing of the roof sheathing (decking) must be brought up to current standards for hurricane resistance as...

Can you vent a clothes dryer into the attic?

Monday, January 11, 2021
Can you vent a clothes dryer into the attic?

Building codes require that dryer “exhaust ducts shall termite to the outside of the building,” and for two good reasons. First, dryer exhaust air is loaded with moisture. When you think the about the weight of a load of towels when they come out of the washer, and then what they weigh when you take them out the dryer, the difference is a lot of water....

How often do you need a four point inspection?

Sunday, January 10, 2021
How often do you need a four point inspection?

A four point inspection is typically required when you apply for homeowners insurance with a new insurer and your home is over 30 years old. They want to know the condition of the roof, electrical, plumbing, and heating/air conditioning systems at the time of application, to evaluate the level of potential risk for a future claim. We know of no standard...

Is a handrail required on both sides of a stair?

Sunday, January 10, 2021
Is a handrail required on both sides of a stair?

"Handrails shall be provided on not less than one side of each continuous run of treads or flight with four or more risers,” according to the International Residential Code (IRC-311.7.8) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code. So a handrail is only required on one side of a residential stair, but commercial construction codes often...

Is a wind mitigation inspection transferable from previous homeowner to new homeowner?

Saturday, January 9, 2021
Is a wind mitigation inspection transferable from previous homeowner to new homeowner?

No. "You must provide a new Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection form because the current property owner must be present and attest to the validity of the inspection,” according to Citizens Insurance, one of the Florida’s largest providers of homeowners insurance. The form was developed by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, and includes...

How do I determine the age of a Century pool or spa pump motor from the serial number?

Thursday, January 7, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Century pool or spa pump motor from the serial number?

The first five numbers of the serial number of most motors manufactured since 2006 indicate the date of manufacture, with the first three numbers being the day of the year, and the fourth and fifth numbers are the year. So the serial number shown above means the motor was produced on the 12th day of 2019.  
    VGreen variable speed motor serial...

What is the maximum height of concrete block piers under a mobile home?

Tuesday, January 5, 2021
What is the maximum height of concrete block piers under a mobile home?

Single block piers cannot exceed 36-inches, measured from top of pad or footing to top of concrete block stack, including 4-inch cap block. Maximum height reduced to 24-inches at corners. All piers over 36-inches and corner piers over 24-inches must be double-stacked block, and piers over 52-inches must have engineering specifications. 

...

What is the minimum height of the crawl space under a mobile home?

Tuesday, January 5, 2021
What is the minimum height of the crawl space under a mobile home?

The HUD standard is a minimum height between ground and bottom of I-beams of 12-inches. Florida has a stricter standard, referred to as a “Florida Override,”  that is an 18-inch minimum—except that, when the grade is sloped, 25% of the area can be lower, but not below 12-inches. 
    For more on mobile home crawl spaces, read our blog posts What...

What is code for minimum height of crawl space from ground to bottom of floor joists?

Tuesday, January 5, 2021
What is code for minimum height of crawl space from ground to bottom of floor joists?

The minimum distance from ground to bottom of wood floor joists is 18-inches, and that’s reduced to 12-inches for the bottom of wood beams, per International Residential Code (IRC-317.1.1). This is specified for the purpose of avoiding wood decay that tends to occur when a wood floor structure is too close to damp ground, and not really about having...

Will a four point inspection lower my homeowners insurance premium?

Monday, January 4, 2021
Will a four point inspection lower my homeowners insurance premium?

If an insurance company wants a four point inspection as a requirement for coverage, you will not get a discount for passing the inspection. But, if your house fails the inspection, you won't get offered a policy until necessary repairs have been made—except that in some cases the company may write the policy and give you thirty days to make repairs...

What is rag wiring?

Sunday, January 3, 2021
What is rag wiring?

Up until the mid-20th century, electrical wiring was insulated with rubber embedded with cloth, which some electricians call “rag wiring.” The material had two safety problems: 1) The rubber hardens, cracks, and pieces start to break off over time, especially in a hot attic, and 2) The cloth-rubber combination has a low thermal resistance and can...

What are the code requirements for a range hood duct?

Saturday, January 2, 2021
What are the code requirements for a range hood duct?

The general requirements of the International Residential Code (IRC-M1503.1 and .2) for range hoods are:•• Must discharge to the outdoors (not terminate in attic).•• Have a smooth interior surface.•• Be airtight.•• Have a back-draft damper.•• Constructed of galvanized steel, stainless steel, or copper.
    An exception is allowed for installation...

Can I use a flexible duct for my range hood?

Saturday, January 2, 2021
Can I use a flexible duct for my range hood?

A flexible duct is not approved by code or manufacturer’s installation manuals. The International Residential Code (IRC-M1503.1) states “the duct serving the hood shall have a smooth interior surface.” Both flexible and semi-rigid ducts have a corrugated interior. An example of how not to do it is shown above.

Here’s excerpts from two hood...

What causes a house to fail a four point inspection?

Thursday, December 31, 2020
What causes a house to fail a four point inspection?

Although homeowners often have to pay for it, a four point inspection report is actually a tool for an insurance underwriter's use, to check for problems in an older home that may cause future claims. It is based on the condition of these four major components: roof, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. Each insurer has their own standards, so...

Can a regular metal electrical junction box be installed outdoors?

Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Can a regular metal electrical junction box be installed outdoors?

A junction box must be rated for exterior weather exposure to be used outside a home. A rated box and its connections will also look definitely watertight. The one shown above is not, and the example below is.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about ELECTRICAL...

What happens when a mobile home foundation fails in a hurricane?

Wednesday, December 23, 2020
What happens when a mobile home foundation fails in a hurricane?

When hurricane winds push against the side of a manufactured home, and the foundation begins to fail, it  may slide off the piers, like the home at the left in the photo below.

    Or, if the wind gets under the home and exposes it to strong uplift forces, making the foundation fail on the windward side, it may flip over. This looks bizarre,...

Why didn’t I get an insurance discount for my new hurricane-resistant windows on my wind mitigation inspection?

Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Why didn’t I get an insurance discount for my new hurricane-resistant windows on my wind mitigation inspection?

"Why don’t I get an insurance discount for my new windows?," an upset customer asked us today during a wind mitigation inspection. “The salesman said they're rated for 140 mph hurricane winds.” Unfortunately, his windows did not qualify for a reduction in the windstorm insurance premium because they have to be approved for both wind and impact resistance...

Is it worth it to upgrade my roof tie-down hurricane straps for a better wind mitigation insurance discount?

Monday, December 21, 2020
Is it worth it to upgrade my roof tie-down hurricane straps for a better wind mitigation insurance discount?

You lose a big discount—up to 35% off your windstorm insurance cost—if the inspector marks the box for Toe Nails on Section 4 - Roof To Wall Attachment of Florida's wind mitigation inspection form (Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form, OIR-B1-1802). It does not necessarily mean that your roof has been toe-nailed to the wall below, although...

What does toe nailing mean?

Sunday, December 20, 2020
What does toe nailing mean?

Toe nailing means driving a nail at about a 45-degree angle to connect two pieces of wood that are perpendicular to each other. It was the standard way to secure roof rafters to the top plate of a wall up until the 1970s when metal strap connectors became required by building codes. Usually at least one nail was toe-nailed into each side of a rafter,...

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