Here's the 30 most recent of over 2400 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

Why is stucco that goes into the ground a problem at a wood frame house?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Why is stucco that goes into the ground a problem at a wood frame house?

Builders extended stucco right into the ground at many Florida homes that were built until about the 1990s. Due to the problems we are about to describe, it was gradually replaced by stucco that stops within 4” to 6” above ground. Then, in the last 20 years the gap between the ground and the bottom of a stucco wall finsh became a code requirement...

Do home inspectors do progress inspections for new homes under construction?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Do home inspectors do progress inspections for new homes under construction?

Although all home inspectors will check a newly constructed home for its first owner, not every inspector offers to check a house at key phases of a its construction. That’s because it requires additional knowledge about how the parts of a home hidden in the wall or under the concrete slab should look when done correctly. These areas are hidden during...

SIDING

Sunday, October 25, 2020
SIDING

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about HOUSE SIDING:
• What causes vertical cracks in fiber cement siding planks?
• What are the vertical butt joint requirements for fiber-cement (Hardiplank) lap siding? 
• What is the difference between Acrocrete and EIFS? 
• Do stucco walls mean a house is concrete block?
•...

What causes warped, buckled vinyl siding?

Sunday, October 25, 2020
What causes warped, buckled vinyl siding?

The most common cause of buckled or warped vinyl siding is an installation that does not allow the siding to expand and contract separately from the wall below it with changes in temperature. Vinyl siding has a higher coefficient of expansion than the wood surface on which it is typically mounted. So it should not be securely nailed in place like...

Can a slip joint pipe connection be concealed in a wall?

Sunday, October 25, 2020

A slip joint can only be concealed in a wall if a 12” minimum access panel is provided. “Fixtures with concealed slip-joint connections shall be provided with an access panel or utility space not less than 12 inches (305mm) in its smallest dimension or other approved arrangement so as to provide access to the slip joint connections for inspection...

What is the maximum number of slip joints allowed by code under a sink?

Saturday, October 24, 2020
What is the maximum number of slip joints allowed by code under a sink?

Slip joints “shall only be installed on the trap outlet, trap inlet and within the trap seal,” according to the International Plumbing Code (IPC 405.8) and the Florida Plumbing Code. That means only a maximum of three slip joints are allowed. We regularly see installations that have been approved by the local building department with more than three,...

Is a digital signature acceptable for customers on the Florida Wind Mitigation Form (OIR-B1-1802)?

Saturday, October 24, 2020
Is a digital signature acceptable for customers on the Florida Wind Mitigation Form (OIR-B1-1802)?

A digital (electronic) signature is acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIR-B1-1802), except when signed by an authorized representative, according to Citizens Property Insurance, which is one of the largest insurors in the state. Other companies are likely to have the same signature policy, but you might want to verify it first.
...

Does code require an access panel for a whirlpool spa tub?

Thursday, October 22, 2020
Does code require an access panel for a whirlpool spa tub?

A whirlpool spa tub requires an access panel for the circulation pump and it must meet the following standards: minimum 12” by 12”, or 18” x 18” if pump is more than 2 feet from opening. Also, a door or removeable panel must cover the opening, which should be unobstructed and large enough to allow removal and replacement of the pump, and any manufacturer’s...

Why is there a floor drain in the laundry room?

Monday, October 19, 2020
Why is there a floor drain in the laundry room?

Washing machine overflows and leaks, water supply hose ruptures, and drain hoses that jump out of the riser connection under a surge of water pressure: these are all problems that can flood a house, sometimes with hundreds of gallons of water. While a floor drain is not required by code, it's a sensible upgrade to avoid a laundry room disaster. We...

Is a dishwasher a plumbing fixture?

Friday, October 16, 2020
Is a dishwasher a plumbing fixture?

A dishwasher is classified by the building codes as a “plumbing appliance,” which is different than a “plumbing fixture.” To learn why, see our blog post What is the difference between a plumbing fixture, a plumbing appliance, and a plumbing appurtenance?
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Here’s links to a collection...

What is the average life expectancy of window blinds?

Thursday, October 15, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of window blinds?

A window blind that remains untouched after installation will last many years, with just an occasional dusting. But blinds that are lifted and lowered, and the slats regularly adjusted for light and privacy control, have a more limited lifespan. You can expect a faux-wood blind to last 3 to 6 years, and the lighter-weight mini-blinds good for 2 to...

Is a sink or toilet shut-off valve behind an access panel approved by code?

Thursday, October 15, 2020
Is a sink or toilet shut-off valve behind an access panel approved by code?

The International Plumbing Code (IPC) allows a fixture shut-off valve to be in an accessible location. Accessible is defined as “access that requires the removal of an access panel or similar removable obstruction.” So the shut-off valve behind a removable panel in the wall next to the toilet, as shown above, is acceptable.
    But this installation...

Is a washing machine a plumbing fixture?

Thursday, October 15, 2020
Is a washing machine a plumbing fixture?

A washing machine is classified by the building codes as a “plumbing appliance,” not a “plumbing fixture.” To learn why, see our blog post What is the difference between a plumbing fixture, a plumbing appliance, and a plumbing appurtenance?

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Here’s links to a collection of some of...

What is the correct size breaker for the tons of my heat pump or air conditioner condenser?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020
What is the correct size breaker for the tons of my heat pump or air conditioner condenser?

The right breaker size for a condenser is approximately twice the RLA (Rated Load Amperage, which is the amperage it draws while running and after the start-up surge). RLA amperage varies between units, with older condensers and less efficient ones drawing more amps. So, for example, a 3-ton condenser can have an RLA that ranges from approximately...

How many plumbing vents through the roof are required by code?

Monday, October 12, 2020
How many plumbing vents through the roof are required by code?

Only one vent is required by the International Residential Code (IRC P3114.7): “Within each plumbing system, not less than one stack vent or vent stack shall extend outdoors to the open air.” Other fixture locations can use an air admittance valve, island vent, or combination waste and vent to provide the air flow necessary for good drainage. See...

Are attic pull-down ladders required to be code-approved?

Sunday, October 11, 2020
Are attic pull-down ladders required to be code-approved?

There are no building code requirements for attic pull-down stairs construction. But most folding attic stairs are not allowed to be installed in a garage by code because they do not meet the fire separation requirement for the ceiling, which must be 1/2” drywall or equivalent in fire-resistance. A few models are available that meet this requirement,...

Can a Type B vent connector be run horizontally?

Sunday, October 4, 2020
Can a Type B vent connector be run horizontally?

The Type B or single-wall vent connector cannot be installed horizontally. But it can be run almost horizontally: 1/4” per foot slope upward toward the vent, with no dips or sags, per International Residential Code (IRC G2427.10.7). The vent it connects to must terminate vertically. An exception would be a mechanical draft vent, where the manufacturer’s...

If the strap has 2 nails at my roof trusses, what credit do I get on my wind mitigation inspection?

Saturday, October 3, 2020
If the strap has 2 nails at my roof trusses, what credit do I get on my wind mitigation inspection?

The Florida wind mitigation form (OIR-B1-1802) requires three nails securing the metal connector to the roof truss or rafter to qualify for a “Roof to Wall Attachment” discount. If the strap has only two nails then it must be listed as equivalent to Toe Nails, which receives no discount.
Here’s an excerpt below from page 2 of the form, with an...

ELECTRICAL SWITCHES

Thursday, October 1, 2020
ELECTRICAL SWITCHES

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about ELECTRICAL SWITCHES:
• What is minimum code requirement for switched lighting in a house? 
• How can I figure out what a mystery wall switch does? 
• Are wall light switches required be "up" for "on" and "down" for "off”?
• Can you use a light switch for a water heater disconnect? 

Does a home inspector test all the wall switches in a house?

Thursday, October 1, 2020
Does a home inspector test all the wall switches in a house?

The Standards of Practice of both the national home inspector associations require an inspector to examine a “representative number” of wall switches in a home, not all of them. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) defines a representative number as “one component per room for multiple similar interior components such as windows and electric...

What is the difference between the HVHZ (High Velocity Hurricane Zone) and the Wind-Borne Debris Region in Florida Building Code?

Tuesday, September 29, 2020
What is the difference between the HVHZ (High Velocity Hurricane Zone) and the Wind-Borne Debris Region in Florida Building Code?

The HVHZ (High Velocity Hurricane Zone) Is Dade and Broward counties, which are located at the bottom of the Florida peninsula on the east coast. The Florida Building Code (FBC) has special hurricane-resistant construction standards for this zone.
The HVHZ is part of the larger Wind-Borne Debris region, which encompasses the areas where the maximum...

Can I get the Florida Building Code (FBC) discount on a wind mitigation form even if the permit application was before March 1, 2002?

Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Can I get the Florida Building Code (FBC) discount on a wind mitigation form even if the permit application was before March 1, 2002?

The biggest single discount on the Florida Wind Mitigation form (OIR-B1-1802)—up to a 68% reduction in the windstorm portion of a homeowner’s insurance policy—is for homes built under the Florida Building Code after it went into effect throughout the state on March 1, 2002. In order to get the discount, the application date for the original building...

Does RhinoRoof® underlayment qualify to the Secondary Water Resistance (SWR) discount on a Florida Wind Mitigation (OIR-B1-1802) inspection?

Monday, September 28, 2020
Does RhinoRoof® underlayment qualify to the Secondary Water Resistance (SWR) discount on a Florida Wind Mitigation (OIR-B1-1802) inspection?

Owens Corning’s RhinoRoof® synthetic roofing underlayment is a sturdier and more tear-resistant underlayment than regular asphalt roofing paper, but it is not rated as a Secondary Water Resistant (SWR) membrane for a discount on your wind mitigation inspection report. An SWR is a "self-adhered and self-sealing modified bitumen roofing underlayment"...

Can a well next to a house cause foundation problems?

Thursday, September 24, 2020
Can a well next to a house cause foundation problems?

A well reduces the water table in the immediate area under the well head in an inverted cone shape called the “cone of depression.” This creates a dewatered area around the well. Although different soil compositions shrink at different rates when dewatered, they all shrink.

    When a well is drilled close to a house, like in the photo...

What is the discount for wall construction type in a Wind Mitigation Inspection Report (OIR-B1-1802)?

Thursday, September 24, 2020
What is the discount for wall construction type in a Wind Mitigation Inspection Report (OIR-B1-1802)?

There is no longer an insurance discount given for superior wall construction, such as “reinforced masonry,” in the Florida wind mitigatin form OIR-B1-1802. The credit for block walls with steel reinforcing running in concrete-filled cells up from the foundation to the tie beam was deleted in the 2012 revision of the form. 
    While it is no...

What is the discount for gable end bracing in a Wind Mitigation Inspection Report (OIR-B1-1802)?

Thursday, September 24, 2020
What is the discount for gable end bracing in a Wind Mitigation Inspection Report (OIR-B1-1802)?

There is no longer an insurance discount for gable end bracing in the Florida wind mitigation inspection form OIR-B1-1802. Although gable end bracing is now code-required for new construction, the discount was eliminated in the 2012 revision of the form. The simple X-shape of 2x4s shown above was once acceptable, but a sturdier C-shape bracing is...

When does code require an attic pull-down ladder to be installed?

Wednesday, September 23, 2020
When does code require an attic pull-down ladder to be installed?

There is no code requirement for an attic ladder, and having an appliance such as a water heater, furnace, or air handler in the attic does not change it. The code does, however, have requirements for the size of the access opening, minimum height above the opening, lighting, and a clear walkway to any appliances. The relevant sections of the International...

How much does a wind mitigation inspection save on insurance?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020
How much does a wind mitigation inspection save on insurance?

It is possible to save as much as 85% on the windstorm portion of your Florida homeowner’s insurance policy if you manage to qualify for all the discounts allowed. But it’s more likely to be less. Florida law requires that insurance companies give you money off for the hurricane-resistant features of your home, and the percentage varies—someitmes...

How high above ground does a well casing have to be in Florida?

Monday, September 21, 2020
How high above ground does a well casing have to be  in Florida?

The top of the well casing of a private well must be a minimum of 12-inches above grade according the Florida Administrative Code 62-532.500(4)(b)2, unless specified protection is installed. Here’s the full text of that citation:
    "For private and multi-family water system wells and irrigation wells, the upper terminus of the well casing shall...

What is the discount for Secondary Water Resistance (SWR) on a Wind Mitigation Inspection Report (OIR-B1-1802)?

Saturday, September 19, 2020
What is the discount for Secondary Water Resistance (SWR) on a Wind Mitigation Inspection Report (OIR-B1-1802)?

The average discount for Secondary Water Resistance (SWR) is 8% of the windstorm part of your homeowner’s insurance premium; but it will vary, sometimes significantly, between insurers. Typically this would be a self-adhered and self-sealing modified bitumen roofing underlayment such as Grace Ice and Water Shield or Certainteed WinterGuard. A foam...

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