What is the difference between PVC and CPVC pipe?

Saturday, May 21, 2022
What is the difference between PVC and CPVC pipe?

They are similar, but not the same. PVC (PolyVinyl Chloride) is bright white and cannot be used for water supply pipe inside a home or for hot water. It is primarily for water service pipe coming to the home and drain/waste pipe inside and leaving it....

Should I buy a house with aluminum wiring?

Thursday, May 19, 2022
Should I buy a house with aluminum wiring?

Homes built before 1972 with solid aluminum wiring are "55 times more likely to have one or more wire connections at outlets reach Fire Hazard Conditions than homes wired with copper," according the CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission). 
The...

How can I tell the age of a RunTru heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Thursday, May 19, 2022
How can I tell the age of a RunTru heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

The year of manufacture of a RunTru heat pump or air conditioning condenser is the first two numbers of the serial number on the data plate at the side of the unit, and is also stated at “MFR DATE” at the upper right corner, as in the example below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Roof Sheathing

Friday, May 13, 2022
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Roof Sheathing

Roof sheathing provides the stable base for installing roofing, and must be securely nailed to the roof structure below to avoid the roof being sucked away during a hurricane. But it is only visible from the attic and does not get much attention—until...

What are common problems found at a one-year warranty inspection of a new house?

Tuesday, May 10, 2022
What are common problems found at a one-year warranty inspection of a new house?

Here’s our list of the defects we commonly find in an 11th month warrany inspection, along with some that are not so common but happen often enough that they should also be checked. Construction defects that aren’t observable when a home is brand new...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Aluminum Wiring

Sunday, May 8, 2022
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Aluminum Wiring

Homes built before 1972 with solid aluminum wiring are "55 times more likely to have one or more wire connections at outlets reach Fire Hazard Conditions than homes wired with copper,” according the CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission). The problem...

What are the common problems of 1920s houses?

Friday, May 6, 2022
What are the common problems of 1920s houses?

The Roaring ‘20s was exactly that: full speed ahead. While the economy surged and the stock market kept hitting new highs, over 4 million homes were built. That was twice as many as the decade before, and 60% more than during the depression years of...

Can the required egress doors in a mobile/manufactured home be sliding glass?

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Yes, the two required emergency egress doors in a manufactured/mobile home can be sliding glass. But exterior sliding glass doors must "be constructed in accordance with 24 CFR 3280.403 the 'Standard for Windows and Sliding Glass Doors Used in Manufactured...

Should I buy a house with polybutylene (PB) piping?

Sunday, May 1, 2022
Should I buy a house with polybutylene (PB) piping?

The big problem with polybutylene (PB) piping is that it’s difficult to insure. Most insurance companies will outright decline to insure a home with PB-pipe because of its history of failure. A few will accept it as long as the homeowner agrees to an...

Should I buy a house with an old inground pool?

Friday, April 29, 2022
Should I buy a house with an old inground pool?

You can expect a concrete or fiberglass inground pool to last 30 to 40 years, maybe even longer with diligent maintenance and keeping up with the water chemistry. But, as a pool gets older, more maintenace and repairs are necessary for both the pool...

Do manufactured/mobile homes have more foundation problems than site-built homes?

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Most manufactured homes are installed on a foundation consisting of piers of stacked concrete blocks on top of a plastic or concrete foundation pad. Protection against uplift forces and lateral stability is provided by tie-down anchors and lateral arm...

How can I tell if stucco is loose around wall cracks?

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Moisture that gets into cracks in a stucco wall can cause swelling that eventually loosens it. Sometimes the loose areas are not visible, but tapping around the crack and listening for a hollow sound will reveal them. It’s important to remove and repair...

Should I buy a house near a sinkhole?

Monday, April 25, 2022

Insurance companies in Florida have the right to decline homeowner’s insurance if a house is near a sinkhole, even a half-mile away or more, depending the particular company’s standard for coverage. Since each insurer has their own underwriter guidelines,...

Should I buy a fixer-upper with big problems?

Sunday, April 24, 2022
Should I buy a fixer-upper with big problems?

Fixer-uppers have an allure that is undeniable. The combination of heartache and reward that comes with repairing a house that's a mess can be truly gratifying. Or it can be overwhelming. 
    To help you decide if that fixer-upper is right for...

Should I buy a house with a retaining wall?

Saturday, April 23, 2022
Should I buy a house with a retaining wall?

First of all, let’s be clear that we are not talking about two-foot high retaining walls that are primarily decorative, like the ones used to create low planting beds around the exterior of a home. This is about retaining walls that are higher than...

How long does a dry-stacked stone retaining wall last?

Friday, April 22, 2022

The life expectancy of a dry-stacked stone retaining wall is 50 to 100+ years, with an average of 70 years, if built correctly. Because this type of retaining wall depends primarily on the weight of the stones to resist movement of the soil behind it,...

What are the roof deck/sheathing panels that look like pressed spaghetti?

Thursday, April 21, 2022
What are the roof deck/sheathing panels that look like pressed spaghetti?

It’s called Tectum, and the first question we usually get asked about it is “Does this stuff contain asbestos?” No it does not. Tectum is manufactured from excelsior (long, thin wood strips, a byproduct from shaving logs that is also used for craft...

What is batter in a retaining wall?

Wednesday, April 20, 2022
What is batter in a retaining wall?

“Batter” is a term used in the masonry trade for the gradual setback from vertical of a wall by insetting each course slightly back from the one below.  When a masonry retaining wall is battered it creates a stronger wall that is more resistant to collapse...

How long do timber railroad tie retaining walls last?

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The life expectancy of a railroad tie retaining wall is about 20 to 30 years, with an average of 25 years. Take off a few years for a location in a warm, wet environment like Florida, where wood rot and termites are active year-round. And, conversely,...

What are the requirements for an electrical panel cover (dead front)?

Monday, April 18, 2022

There are three purposes of an electrical panel dead front: 1) keep any arcing or sparking that might occur inside the panel from escaping, 2) keep the exposed interior electrical connections out of reach, and 3) maintain a connection to ground so that...

What are the installation requirements for manufactured/mobile homes in Florida?

Monday, April 18, 2022
What are the installation requirements for manufactured/mobile homes in Florida?

HUD has code requirements for installation of manufactured homes, and the State of Florida has their own additional “Florida override” requirements that exceed the HUD standards. But they are all enforced by the county or city building department where...

What is an electrical OCPD?

Sunday, April 17, 2022
What is an electrical OCPD?

OCPD is an acronym commonly used in building codes for OverCurrent Protective Device. Circuit breakers and fuses are both an OCPD. They protect against too much current flowing through the wiring in a house, which can easily heat them to the point that...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Circuit Breakers

Friday, April 15, 2022
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Circuit Breakers

The building code refers to a circuit breaker as an OCPD, which stands for  Over-Current Protective Device. Here’s a selection of our articles about them:
• What is the maximum number of circuit breakers allowed in an electric panel?
• Can...

Can you substitute two 120-volt breakers for a 240-volt breaker in a panel?

Friday, April 15, 2022

Yes, you can use two side-by-side single-pole 120-volt breakers as a substitute for a two-pole 240-volt breaker as long as the following three requirements are met:
1) The breakers must be “specified" as suitable for installation in the panel by...

Does a whole-house surge protector need a dedicated circuit breaker?

Thursday, April 14, 2022
Does a whole-house surge protector need a dedicated circuit breaker?

Manufacturer instructions for Type 2 surge protectors (installed load side, after main breaker) specify connection to a dedicated unused breaker. Here’s an example from an Eaton surge protector installation manual:

    So a double-tap to...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Surge Protectors

Thursday, April 14, 2022

There’s about $15,000 worth of electrical equipment in the average home that can be ruined by a surge, according to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. Compared to the cost and inconvenience of having to replace all the major appliances...

Does code require a whole-house surge protector for houses?

Wednesday, April 13, 2022
Does code require a whole-house surge protector for houses?

The 2020 edition of the National Electrical Code [NEC 230.67(A)] is the first one to require that “all services supplying dwelling units shall be provided with a surge-protective device (SPD).” It applies to new homes and when an existing electrical...

What is the difference between PVC water pipe and PVC electrical conduit?

Monday, April 11, 2022

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) water pipe and conduit are not interchangeable. Here’s the four key differences between them:
1) PVC water pipe is designed to resist water pressure, so the pipe wall is thicker than PVC electrical conduit.
2) PVC...

What is code requirement for receptacle outlets at a porch, deck, or balcony?

Monday, April 11, 2022

At least one receptacle outlet is required for any porch, deck, or balcony that is within 4-inches horizontally of a house, according to the 2020 edition of the National Electrical Code [NEC 210.52(E)(3)]. Here’s how it’s stated: "Balconies, decks,...

What is the code minimum slope for a porch floor away from the house?

Sunday, April 10, 2022
What is the code minimum slope for a porch floor away from the house?

A residential porch falls under the category of an an “impervious surface within 10 feet of the building foundation” in the International Residential Code (IRC R401.3), which requires a minimum slope of 2 percent (equivalent to 1/4-inch per foot) away...

What is the code minimum slope for a patio away from the house?

Sunday, April 10, 2022
What is the code minimum slope for a patio away from the house?

A residential patio falls under the category of an an “impervious surface within 10 feet of the building foundation” in the International Residential Code (IRC R401.3), which requires a minimum slope of 2 percent (equivalent to 1/4-inch per foot) away...

What is DWV pipe?

Saturday, April 9, 2022

DWV stands for Drain-Waste-Vent. It is the “back half” of your plumbing pipe system that drains fluids and waste away from the house and connects to a sewer or septic system. Unlike water piping, it is not pressurized and drains by gravity using downward-sloped...

How do I find the size in tons of a Winchester air cnditioner or heat pump from the model number?

Saturday, April 9, 2022

You can determine the size in tons of your Winchester HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the a/c condenser (outdoor unit). Look for first two numbers in the model number. They are divisible by 6 or 12, which...

Does a Dutch Gable count as a gable or hip for the Florida wind mitigation inspection?

Wednesday, April 6, 2022
Does a Dutch Gable count as a gable or hip for the Florida wind mitigation inspection?

A Dutch Gable counts as part gable and part hip for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIR-B1-1802). A horizontal measurement taken at the bottom of the triangle shape that is the gable end counts as a gable. If that dimension is more than 10% of the...

How do I find the age of a Winchester air conditioner or heat pump from the serial number?

Monday, April 4, 2022

Winchester HVAC products are manufactured by York and follow their serial number encoding format: the second and fourth digits of the serial number are the year of manufacture. So W1C9642783 indicates manufacture in 2019. 
    For the age of another...

How do I determine the size in tons of a Fraser-Johnston air conditioner or heat pump from the model number?

Monday, April 4, 2022
How do I determine the size in tons of a Fraser-Johnston air conditioner or heat pump from the model number?

You can determine the size in tons of your Fraser-Johnston HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the a/c condenser (outdoor unit). Look for first two numbers in the model number. They are divisible by 6 or 12,...

How do I find the age of a Fraser-Johnston air conditioner or heat pump from the serial number?

Monday, April 4, 2022
How do I find the age of a Fraser-Johnston air conditioner or heat pump from the serial number?

For Fraser-Johnston air conditioners and heat pumps manufactured from October 2004 to the present, the first and third digits in the serial number will be letters, and the second and fourth digits will be numbers that indicate the year of manufacture....

Can a trap arm be smaller diameter than the trap under a sink?

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

“A trap shall not be larger than the drainage pipe into which the trap discharges,” according to the International Residential Code (IRC P3201.7). So a trap arm cannot be smaller than the trap.
    But, conversely, a larger trap arm is allowed....

Can service condutors be installed in the same raceway/conduit with feeder or branch circuit conductors?

Monday, March 28, 2022

Feeder or branch circuit wiring is not allowed in the same raceway/conduit as service conductors. The reason is that service conductors (wires) do not have overcurrent protection, so a short between a service conductor and a feeder or branch circuit...

How do I find the age of a Haier heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Monday, March 28, 2022
How do I find the age of a Haier heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Many Haier units have an 8-digit serial number, with the first two digits being the year of manufacture, and 3rd and 4th digits the month. So the data plate shown above indicates the Haier room air conditioner was produced in February, 2007. Haier publishes...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Laundry Areas

Sunday, March 27, 2022
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Laundry Areas

A laundry area can be just a corner of the garage, inside a closet, or a separate, dedicated room. Older Florida homes often had the laundry on a back porch. But, wherever it’s located, all laundries must be both safe and functional. Here’s answers...

Is a half-hip roof considered a hip roof for a Florida wind mitigation inspection?

Saturday, March 26, 2022
Is a half-hip roof considered a hip roof for a Florida wind mitigation inspection?

A half-hip roof is also called a clipped gable or jerkinhead roof. It is essentially a gable roof end that has a small hip sloping backward near the peak. The Florida wind mitigation form (OIR-B1-1802) requires that a roof can only qualify as the hip...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Bedrooms

Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Bedrooms

Bedrooms, and especially master bedrooms, seem to have grown larger each decade for the past 50 years. Master bedroom suites often include his and hers walk-in closets and an impressive, equally large bathroom, often topped off with a sitting or dressing...

Can a HUD Park Model be moved from Florida to another state?

Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Can a HUD Park Model be moved from Florida to another state?

The best answer we can give you is “maybe.” A HUD Park Model is a special designation for an RV (recreational vehicle) that is at least 400 square feet and less than 500 square feet, and built to HUD manufactured home standards. But it can only be registered...

What are the minimum code requirements for residential stairs?

Monday, March 21, 2022
What are the minimum code requirements for residential stairs?

Here are the minimum code requirements for residential stairs:• The stair riser (vertical piece) cannot exceed 7-3/4-inches in height (IRC R311.7.5.1)• The minimum tread (horizontal piece) depth is 10-inches.• A nosing is required on treads that are...

What are the minimum code requirements for a residential garage?

Sunday, March 20, 2022
What are the minimum code requirements for a residential garage?

Here are the minimum code requirements for a residential garage:
• An attached roofed area for vehicle storage must be open on a least two sides to be defined as a carport. If it is enclosed on three sides, even if there is no garage door on the...

What are the minimum code requirements for a residential bathroom?

Sunday, March 20, 2022
What are the minimum code requirements for a residential bathroom?

Here’s the minimum code requirements for a residential bathroom:• Every dwelling must have a water closet (toilet), lavatory (sink), and bathtub or shower (IRC R306.1).• Bathrooms and toilet rooms must have a minimum ceiling height of 6-feet 8-inches...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Minimum Code Requirements

Sunday, March 20, 2022
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Minimum Code Requirements

These lists of minimum code standards are helpful to know to avoid problems with a municipal building inspector, but should not be taken as design guidelines. They are simply the absolute minimum that is acceptable. 
• What are the minimum code...

What are the minimum code requirements for a residential hallway?

Sunday, March 20, 2022
What are the minimum code requirements for a residential hallway?

Here are the minimum code requirements for a residential hallway:• Minimum width of a hallway is 3-feet (IRC R311.6).• A receptacle outlet is only required when a hallway is 10-feet or longer, and just one is necessary even if hallway is much longer...

What are the minimum code requirements for a residential kitchen?

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Here’s the minimum code requirements for a residential kitchen:• Every residence must have a kitchen area (IRC R306.2).• There is no minimum square foot area for a kitchen (IRC R304.1).• Minimum kitchen ceiling height of 7-feet (IRC R305.1).• Kitchen...

What is the best location for a heat pump air handler (indoor unit)?

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The three factors for finding the best location for your heat pump air handler (indoor unit) are: 1) near center of home, 2) easy to access, and 3) not far from the condenser. Positioning the air handler near the center of the home means shorter duct...

What is the best location for a heat pump condenser (outside unit)?

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

The two things that make an ideal location for a heat pump condenser are good air flow and shade. Keeping at least a foot of clear space around the unit, and not less than five feet above it is necessary. Also, do not limit air flow by installing the...

Is a drain pan required for a small (2.5 to 6 gallon) water heater?

Sunday, March 13, 2022

If the water heater has a storage tank, no matter how small, and it is located where leakage would cause damage, then a drain pan is required by the International Residential Code (IRC 2801.6). So when it is installed in the living area of the home,...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Plumbing Traps and Drains

Sunday, March 13, 2022
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Plumbing Traps and Drains

Plumbing drains use gravity—the simple concept that water flows downhill—to do their work. But getting drain piping to function consistently without belching up sewer gas, clogging, or contaminating your drinking water is not so simple. Here’s some...

Are running traps legal by plumbing code?

Sunday, March 13, 2022
Are running traps legal by plumbing code?

"Running trap” is a common name for what the building codes refer to as a building trap. It dates back to the time before individual traps were required for each plumbing fixture, and building traps have been prohibited by the plumbing codes for many...

How do I minimize roof penetrations?

Saturday, March 12, 2022

More roof leaks start at roof penetrations—like skylights, plumbing vents, gas appliance flues, and dryer vents—than anywhere else on a roof. Each thing that pokes through the roof surface increases the likelihood of a leak. And penetrations on the...

How long does a well casing last?

Friday, March 11, 2022

Most residential well casings are carbon steel and have a life expectancy of about 20 to 35 years, with an average of 25. A casing of High Strength Low Alloy (HSLA) steel or stainless steel lasts longer, but is more expensive. PVC plastic well casing...

How many outdoor receptacle outlets are required by code?

Monday, March 7, 2022

A minimum of two outdoor receptacles, one at the front and one at the back wall, are required by the National Electrical code [NEC 210.52(E)(1)]. This applies to single-family homes and each side of a duplex. Also, each receptacle must be readily accessible...

How do I determine the age of an Intertek ETL heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Although the Intertek logo appears prominently on the data sticker of many Japanese, Korean, and Chinese HVAC units, it is not a manufacturer. Intertek is a testing lab, similar to Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and the ETL stands for Electrical Testing...

What things can void a shingle roof warranty?

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Anything that shortens the life of the shingle or makes roof leaks more likely is excluded by a shingle manufacturer’s warranty. Here’s our list of 14 of them. It varies somewhat according to manufacturer, and warranty terms often change from year-to-year,...

What is the difference between a smoke alarm and a heat alarm?

Friday, March 4, 2022

It’s simple enough: a smoke alarm detects smoke and a heat alarm detects heat. But there’s more to it than that. Smoke alarms are required in a residential setting where people sleep. Today’s code mandates one in each sleeping room, and also in the...

How can I tell a main electrical panel from a subpanel?

Tuesday, March 1, 2022
How can I tell a main electrical panel from a subpanel?

The main panel is the one that connects directly to electrical service coming into a home. Electricians refer to it correctly as the "service panel." It is the first in line after the meter, and has a main circuit breaker that shuts off all the electricity...

When is an electrical panel overcrowded with too much wiring?

Sunday, February 27, 2022
When is an electrical panel overcrowded with too much wiring?

An electrical panel is overcrowded if the jumbled maze of wires makes it impossible to follow the path of a wire from the breaker to where it exits the box. The panel shown above was so jammed with wiring that we had to push the dead front firmly against...

How do I determine the age of a Bryant electrical panel?

Sunday, February 27, 2022
How do I determine the age of a Bryant electrical panel?

Bryant Electric Company was founded in1888 and one of the first manufacturers of electrical switching equipment. But it became a division of Westinghouse in the 1901, and Westinghouse ceased production of Bryant brands panels in 1988. So any panels...

How can I tell the age of an A.O. Smith tankless on-demand water heater from the serial number?

Wednesday, February 23, 2022
How can I tell the age of an A.O. Smith tankless on-demand water heater from the serial number?

The first two numbers of the serial number on the data plate of an A.O. Smith tankless water heater are the year of manufacture. So the one shown below indicates 2015.

    For determining the age of an A.O. Smith tank water heater, go to...

How do I find the size in tons of a DuctlessAire heat pump or air conditioner from the model number?

Tuesday, February 22, 2022
How do I find the size in tons of a DuctlessAire heat pump or air conditioner from the model number?

You can determine the size in tons of your DuctlessAire HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look for first two numbers in the middle of the series of letters and numbers. It should...

How do I find the age of a DuctlessAire heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Tuesday, February 22, 2022
How do I find the age of a DuctlessAire heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

The year of manufacture of a DuctlessAire HVAC system is at the 12th digit in their long serial number on the condenser data plate. So, be ready to count carefully to locate it. Here’s an example: 2401321290763290165004 is 2016. The next digits are...

How do I find the size in tons of a Midea heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Monday, February 21, 2022
How do I find the size in tons of a Midea heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

You can determine the size in tons of your Midea HVAC system by examining the model number (not serial number) on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look for the two numbers in the middle of the series of letters. It should...

How do I find the age of a Midea heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Monday, February 21, 2022
How do I find the age of a Midea heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

The first two numbers after a the letter “V” are the year of manufacture. So the serial number V193157328 indicates production in 2019. Here’s a diagram of the sequence from a Midea owner’s manual.

    However, there are a few models shown...

Frequently Asked Questions about Electrical Grounding

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Here’s links to answers for frequently asked questions about ELECTRICAL GROUNDING:
• Why is it unsafe to bond neutral and ground wiring at subpanels?
• When was it first required that neutrals and grounds be separated (not bonded) on any panel...

Why are most or all the receptacle outlets ungrounded in my house?

Saturday, February 19, 2022
Why are most or all the receptacle outlets ungrounded in my house?

There are several possibile causes for your problem, but we have to divide them into two groups, depending on whether your house was built before or after around 1962. The reason is that the 1962 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) was the...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Bathroom Showers

Saturday, February 19, 2022
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Bathroom Showers

Here’s links for answers to frequently asked questions about showers: 
• How do you test a shower pan for leaks?
• What are the minimum requirements for a shower?
• Why are shower water valves all single-handle nowadays? 
• What...

Where do I turn off the water to the shower?

Saturday, February 19, 2022

The code does not require water shut-offs for a shower or bathtub, so most homes don’t have them and you will have to use the main shut-off to the house. If you don’t know where it is, go to our article How do I find the main water shut off valve for...

Can you vent a clothes dryer through the soffit?

Friday, February 18, 2022

The International Residential Code (IRC) does not prohibit termination of a dryer exhaust duct through a soffit, but the code restrictions and installation problems make it more difficult than other termination locations. Here’s a list of the issues...

What is the difference between a smoke alarm and a fire alarm?

Thursday, February 17, 2022

A smoke alarm/detector sounds an alarm when smoke is detected in the area where it’s located. If it is linked to other smoke or heat alarms in the immediate area, they will sound an alarm also. But a fire alarm system will take the signal from a smoke...

Can I install water heater in the crawl space by code?

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

The International Residential Code (IRC) allows water heater installation in a crawl space (an unconditioned space under a home, just a few feet high, and over bare dirt), but there are multiple requirements for the installation:
•• Water heater...

When did the code change from minimum one receptacle per garage to one receptacle per garage vehicle bay?

Tuesday, February 15, 2022
When did the code change from minimum one receptacle per garage to one receptacle per garage vehicle bay?

The change to a minimum of one receptacle per vehicle bay in a garage, from only one receptacle per garage, happened in 2014 edition of the National Electrical Code. But it would be more accurate to say that it began in 2014, which specified one receptacle...

Can a crack between the wall and ceiling be caused by the house sinking?

Monday, February 14, 2022
Can a crack between the wall and ceiling be caused by the house sinking?

Cracks along the line where the ceiling and walls meet can be caused by settlement of the floor slab or supporting piers below an elevated wood floor, but usually there is a separation between the baseboard and floor first, along with stress cracks...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about PEX pipe

Sunday, February 13, 2022
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about PEX pipe

Here’s links to answers for our most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about PEX PIPES:
• Can PEX pipe be installed outside?  
• Can I get insurance with PEX piping? 
• Is PEX pipe freeze resistant?
• What is the average life expectancy...

Does a subpanel have to be the same brand as the main panel?

Sunday, February 13, 2022
Does a subpanel have to be the same brand as the main panel?

There is no requirement for the main (service) panel and any subpanels to be the same brand. But it is necessary that a panel be configured correctly as a service panel (neutral and ground bonded) or subpanel (neutral and ground not bonded). Also, a...

What does ECO INSTALLED mean on a water heater data sticker?

Friday, February 11, 2022

The ECO stands for Energy Cut-Off, and is installed in both gas and electric water heaters. Here is how General Electric describes it in their owner’s manuals for electric water heaters: “The water heater is equipped with a combination thermostat and...

Where have all the grow houses gone?

Friday, February 11, 2022

Yesterday we inspected a mobile home in a seniors-only community. The site sloped down to a small lake, and our homebuyer loved the way a large oak tree in the backyard framed a picture-perfect view of the water from her kitchen window. But there was...

How do I move a water heater?

Wednesday, February 9, 2022
How do I move a water heater?

Relocating a water heater requires a knowledge of plumbing, along with electrical wiring or gas piping, or possibly all three, plus the building code requirements of each. If installed incorrectly, a water heater can explode like a bomb and destroy...

Can a tank water heater be installed outdoors?

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

All manufacturers of tank-type water heaters specify indoor installation. Here’s what State Industries says in their owner’s manual for tank water heaters: “You should carefully select an indoor location for the new water heater.” And Rheem states “do...

Are Murray electrical panels safe?

Monday, February 7, 2022
Are Murray electrical panels safe?

We know of only one documented safety problem with Murray electrical panels. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) had a recall of their breakers, panels, and meter combos that were manufactured from June through August, 2010, due to "a spring...

Do plumbing vent pipes have to go through the roof by code?

Monday, February 7, 2022
Do plumbing vent pipes have to go through the roof by code?

The International Residential Code requires a minimum of one vent to the "outdoor open air" per residence (IRC P3114.7). The rest of the plumbing fixtures can be vented by an air admittance valve, island vent, or combination waste and vent. 
...

How can I determine the age of a Generac standby generator from the serial number?

Friday, February 4, 2022
How can I determine the age of a Generac standby generator from the serial number?

The date of manufacture is not encoded into the serial number of a Generac Guardian standby generator. They use a simple, sequential numbering system. To find out how old the generator is, look for the serial number on the data plate at the inside wall...

Which is better: vinyl or brick manufactured/mobile home skirting?

Thursday, February 3, 2022
Which is better: vinyl or brick manufactured/mobile home skirting?

Both vinyl and brick skirting have advantages and disadvantages. Here’ s listing of the pros and cons of each.
Vinyl SkirtingPro• Much less expensive and easier to install than brick.• The required ventilation openings are already in each panel.•...

How can I keep wasps out of my electrical panel box?

Tuesday, February 1, 2022
How can I keep wasps out of my electrical panel box?

A dozen angry wasps swarming at you when you remove the dead front cover of an outdoor electrical panel can ruin a home inspector’s day. They might also attack a homeowner that gets too close to the box. Wasps prefer exterior electrical panels to build...

How do I determine the age of a Murray electrical panel?

Tuesday, February 1, 2022
How do I determine the age of a Murray electrical panel?

The date of manufacture of newer Murray panels—the ones produced since Siemens took over the brand in the 1990s—can be found at the bottom of the paper data plate on the inside of the panel door, as shown in the example above. But Murray Electrical...

Can an air admittance valve (AAV or Studor) be installed horizontally?

Tuesday, February 1, 2022
Can an air admittance valve (AAV or Studor) be installed horizontally?

Manufacturers specify that an air admittance valve be installed within 15º of vertical. So the sideways installation shown above is not acceptable, and it will not function properly in that position. The International Residential Code (IRC) and Residential...

Is antioxidant paste code required for aluminum wire lug connections?

Saturday, January 29, 2022
Is antioxidant paste code required for aluminum wire lug connections?

There is no specific code requirement for antioxidant paste at the lug connections of multi-strand aluminum wires in electrical panels. Also, some aluminum wire manufacturers and panelboard manufacturers now no longer require antioxidant paste for aluminum...

How far should a metal roof overhang the drip edge?

Saturday, January 29, 2022
How far should a metal roof overhang the drip edge?

There is no code specification for how far a metal roof panel should extend past the drip edge in the International Residential Code (IRC). But all codes require following manufacturer’s installation instructions, and the typical manufacturer’s spec...

Can PVC water pipe be used in a garage?

Thursday, January 27, 2022

PVC pipe is only approved for water service pipe, which is pipe from the water main to the structure. It is not approved for water distribution pipe within the structure. There is no distinction made between living space inside the home and a garage....

Why would a house have a septic mound system?

Sunday, January 16, 2022
Why would a house have a septic mound system?

A long, grass-covered mound of soil that is several feet high near the home usually means there is a mound septic system. The mound is constructed of layers of sand and gravel with the perforated drainfield pipes running through it. A mound system is...

Why can't I use duct tape on heating and air conditioning ducts?

Thursday, January 13, 2022
Why can't I use duct tape on heating and air conditioning ducts?

You can’t use duct tape on ducts. Huh? How did that happen? Well, the general pupose repair tape we now call duct tape was originally “duck tape,” likely because it started out being made from duck cloth, and the name morphed to duct tape over the years....

Why does radon have to be vented above the roof by a mitigation system?

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Radon is seven times heavier than air. It must be vented to above the roof so that the radon can disperse in air flow over the home, reducing the concentration to near the normal outdoor level by time it’s down at the ground. If the radon vent terminated...

Is a house required to have an eave overhang by code?

Monday, January 10, 2022
Is a house required to have an eave overhang by code?

Code does not require a house to have an eave overhang. But the International Residential Code (IRC R318.5) requires installation of a gutter and downspout if there is no eave overhang or it is less than 6-inches. This is intended to keep rainwater...

What are skirting access panel code requirements for a manufactured-mobile home?

Sunday, January 9, 2022
What are skirting access panel code requirements for a manufactured-mobile home?

The HUD minimum size requirement for a manufactured-mobile home access panel is 18-inches wide by 24-inches high and not less than 3 square feet in total area [24CFR3285.505(e)]. The access panel(s) must be located so that any water supply or sewer...

What is the standard height for a refrigerator receptacle outlet?

Saturday, January 8, 2022

There is no code-mandated or industry standard for the height of a refrigerator wall receptacle outlet. But, because a refrigerator is often between an end wall on one side and base cabinets on the other, a higher wall receptacle makes it easier to...

What makes stucco bulge out?

Saturday, January 8, 2022
What makes stucco bulge out?

Bulging areas in a stucco wall are caused by water collecting behind the stucco that has drained down to it from an entry point above. It’s important to repair both the bulge and locate the entry opening for repair too. See our article What are the...

What is the code minimum width of an exterior door?

Friday, January 7, 2022
What is the code minimum width of an exterior door?

The minimum width of the clear opening of one exterior door in a house must be 34-inches. You need a 36-inch door to get a 34-inch clear opening. But only one door has to meet this standard and that door is designated as the “egress door”—for emergency,...

Are Westinghouse electrical panels dangerous?

Friday, January 7, 2022
Are Westinghouse electrical panels dangerous?

We know of no recalls or documented design/safety problems with Westinghouse electrical panels. But Westinghouse was one of the first manufacturers of circuit breaker panels, producing them from 1927 to 1995. Many of their panelboards we see that are...

What is code for termite protection for new homes in Florida?

Thursday, January 6, 2022
What is code for termite protection for new homes in Florida?

Most of the requirements for termite protection for new construction are in section R318 of the the Florida Building Code. Here’s a summary of key items.
TREATMENT REQUIREMENTS
• Termite protection must be provided by registered termiticides,...

What is the building code for attic access stairs?

Wednesday, January 5, 2022
What is the building code for attic access stairs?

An attic access stair or pull-down attic stair is not required by code for a non-habitable attic. Only an access opening is mandated. See What is the building code requirement for an attic access hatch, scuttle, or door? for the specs.
   If you...

Can I get insurance with PEX piping?

Tuesday, January 4, 2022
Can I get insurance with PEX piping?

Some companies in Florida will not insure any home with PEX piping, others won’t accept PEX installed before 2010, and some just want an inspector to determine if the PEX is in good condition to issue coverage.
    It’s all because there have been...

How much does a wind mitigation inspection cost?

Monday, January 3, 2022
How much does a wind mitigation inspection cost?

You can expect to pay between $75 and $150, with the average price being in the middle of those two numbers. A wind mitigation report is much less expensive if you order it at the same time as a buyer’s home inspection, because it saves an inspector...

Is Hardie fiber-cement siding waterproof?

Sunday, January 2, 2022
Is Hardie fiber-cement siding waterproof?

The answer to this question depends on whether you want to know if the fiber-cement siding material itself is waterproof, or if the wall is waterproof after installation of the siding.
MATERIAL - Hardie and other brands of fiber-cement siding receive...

When were emergency egress windows first required by code?

Saturday, January 1, 2022
When were emergency egress windows first required by code?

The requirement for a means of emergency exit from a bedroom or basement directly to the outside of a home was first required around the 1960’s or so. Here’s how it was stated in the 1973 South Florida Building Code.

We say “around the 1960s”...

Where do I shut off the refrigerator water line?

Friday, December 31, 2021

Because water and ice service has become a standard feature for most refrigerators, newer homes have a water line connection and shut-off valve inset in the wall behind the refrigerator. But the water line has to be retrofitted at older homes, and it's...

What are the common problems with concrete block homes?

Friday, December 31, 2021
What are the common problems with concrete block homes?

Concrete block has plenty of advantages as a material for house walls. It’s not susceptible to rot, termites don’t eat it, it’s dimensionally stable, tolerates minor moisture intrusion, is hurricane resistant, and considered by many homebuyers as a...

Can I put an attic access hatch in closet?

Tuesday, December 28, 2021
Can I put an attic access hatch in closet?

The building code allows attic access from a closet ceiling as long as it meets the requirements of having a minimum 22” x 30” opening and at least 30” of headroom directly above the opening. But there are several good reasons not to put the attic access...

How close can you build to a septic drain field in Florida?

Monday, December 27, 2021

Five feet is the minimum distance required between a drainfield and any construction. Septic systems "shall not be located under buildings or within 5 feet of building foundations, including pilings for elevated structures, or within 5 feet of mobile...

Does every bathroom receptacle outlet require GFCI?

Sunday, December 26, 2021
Does every bathroom receptacle outlet require GFCI?

Yes, all receptacles in a bathroom must be GFCI-protected, per the National Electrical Code (NEC). For the requirements for locations where bathroom receptacles must be placed, and where they cannot, go to our article What is code for bathroom receptacle...

Does a kitchen island counter require a electrical outlet by code?

Sunday, December 26, 2021
Does a kitchen island counter require a electrical outlet by code?

“At least one receptacle shall be installed at each island countertop space with a long dimension of 600 mm (24 inches) or greater and a short dimension of 300 mm (12 inches) or greater,” per National Electrical Code [NEC 210.52 (C)(2)]. But an island...

What are the problems with buying a house sight unseen?

Saturday, December 25, 2021
What are the problems with buying a house sight unseen?

Buyers have to  move fast when they see a house they want in today’s hot real estate market. It is not unusual for a home to sell on the first day of listing, and sometimes at thousands more than the asking price. Out-of-town buyers lose out if they...

Do I need a permit enclose a carport into a garage?

Friday, December 24, 2021
Do I need a permit enclose a carport into a garage?

Yes, you need a building permit to convert a carport into a garage. The main reason is that an attached carport that becomes a garage comes under a cluster of code safety standards that are not required for a carport. The most significant is that the...

Can a water heater be cord and plug connected by code?

Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Can a water heater be cord and plug connected by code?

Cord-and-plug connection of water heaters was once acceptable, but has not been allowed for at least the past 25 years by the National Electrical Code [NEC 422.16(A)]. The code does not approve a flexible cord connection unless "the fastening means...

Is a thermal expansion tank required for tankless water heaters?

Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Is a thermal expansion tank required for tankless water heaters?

No, the International Residential Code (IRC P2903.4.2) only requires an expansion tank for a “water supply system using storage water heating equipment."
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 
Here’s links to a collection...

How long does it take for a new house to settle?

Monday, December 20, 2021
How long does it take for a new house to settle?

It takes two to three years for the initial settlement of a newly constructed home, and the majority of it happens in the first year. That time-frame can be longer, or a little shorter, based on factors like soil composition, how much the ground was...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Window Air Conditioners

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Their detractors call them noisy and inefficient, but window air conditioners have gotten both more energy-efficient and quieter in the last few years. Here answers to some of our most-frequently-asked questions about window air conditioners: 
• What...

How energy efficient are window air conditioners compared to a split system whole-house air conditioner?

Sunday, December 19, 2021
How energy efficient are window air conditioners compared to a split system whole-house air conditioner?

If you determine energy efficiency based only on the EER (Energy Efficiency Rating) numbers, window air conditioners score lower on average than a split system. Older window units, or recently purchased less-expensive ones, have an EER of about 9. More...

Why is my water meter box full of water?

Friday, December 17, 2021
Why is my water meter box full of water?

Although a water meter box full of water can be caused by a leak at the meter connection, it is more often the result of heavy rain and saturated ground, especially if the meter is located at a low spot on the property. And when your house is on a smaller...

What is an RTU air conditioner or heat pump?

Tuesday, December 14, 2021
What is an RTU air conditioner or heat pump?

RTU stands for Roof Top Unit. Multiple RTU’s are often used on the roof of commercial building like supermarkets and big box retailers for air conditioning and heating. A simple way to explain one is to compare it to a very large window air conditioner....

Do residential homes have single-phase or three-phase service?

Sunday, December 12, 2021
Do residential homes have single-phase or three-phase service?

Virtually all residences have single-phase electrical service. Less than 1%—actually way less than 1%—have three-phase. It is expensive to install and would only be useful if the homeowner had a workshop with large electric motors or the house was a...

Does a tankless (on-demand) water heater require a shut-off valve?

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Yes, the International Residential Code requires a cold water shut-off valve at all water heaters (IRC 2903.9.2). It must be a full-open valve and readily accessible. Also, manufacturers recommend installation of a shut-off at the outlet (hot) piping...

Does homeowners insurance cover removal of asbestos?

Saturday, December 11, 2021
Does homeowners insurance cover removal of asbestos?

The removal of asbestos in a home is not covered because contaminants are excluded under most insurance policies, and asbestos is considered a contaminant. But removal may—or may not, depending of the policy—be covered if it is part of a covered peril,...

What is the average life expectancy of a corrugated asphalt panel roof?

Friday, December 10, 2021
What is the average  life expectancy of a corrugated asphalt panel roof?

You can expect a corrugated asphalt panel roof to last 9 to 13 years, with an average of 11. Corrugated asphalt is sold as a DIY project, and more often used in our area for sheds and pole barns than houses. When installed on homes, the material  is...

What are the common problems of 1930s houses?

Friday, December 10, 2021
What are the common problems of 1930s houses?

The 1930s will always be remembered as the era of the Great Depression. Less than half as many homes were built than a decade earlier in the Roaring ‘20s, and most homes are smaller, with lower ceilings and less ornate details. 
    Here’s our...

What is an electrical subpanel?

Thursday, December 9, 2021

The best way to define a subpanel is to describe what it is not. A subpanel is not a service panel (often called a main panel), which is the first panel after the electric meter and is capable of shutting off all the incoming power to it. A subpanel...

Is water heater corrosion a sign it's time for replacement?

Thursday, December 9, 2021
Is water heater corrosion a sign it's time for replacement?

Visible corrosion, especially around the bottom or top of a water heater, usually means you will need to replace it soon. But not always. The rust that happens on the inside of the tank of your water heater is what causes it to fail, and that sometimes...

What is the minimum distance from septic tank to house in Florida?

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Septic systems "shall not be located under buildings or within 5 feet of building foundations, including pilings for elevated structures, or within 5 feet of mobile home walls, swimming pool walls, or within 5 feet of property lines,” according to Florida...

Can a mobile/manufactured home sit on the ground?

Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Can a mobile/manufactured home sit on the ground?

You may have seen a mobile home that looks like it's sitting on the ground, but it was actually on a foundation set into a shallow excavated pit under the home. That type of installation is called a “pit set.” To learn more, go to our article What is...

Is GFCI required to pass a 4 point inspection.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

GFCI-protection is not required to pass a 4 point inspection. A four point inspection is not the same, or as thorough, as a home inspection. The inspector simply answers a list of questions on a standard form that provides information for an insurance...

What is a hip roof?

Tuesday, December 7, 2021
What is a hip roof?

A hip roof slopes inward on all sides up to a ridge line, or has a pyramid shape if square below. It differs from a gable roof, which slopes inward on only two sides and has a triangle shape “gable end” on two sides.

    The hip shape is...

How close can a plumbing vent be to a window by code?

Tuesday, December 7, 2021
How close can a plumbing vent be to a window by code?

The minimum distance a plumbing vent must be from an openable window is at least 4-feet below, or 3-feet above, or 10-feet away from the opening. This also applies to a door or any other air intake opening, per the International Residential Code (IRC...

Does a kitchen garbage disposal require GFCI protection?

Monday, December 6, 2021

A kitchen garbage disposal receptacle outlet is required to be GFCI-protected by the 2020 National Electrical Code. It is not mentioned specifically by name, but comes into play under the requirement for GFCI-protection for receptacles "within 1.8 m...

How do I determine the age of a Thomas & Betts electrical panel?

Monday, December 6, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Thomas & Betts electrical panel?

Some Thomas & Betts panelboards have a year/month/day stamp on the data sticker at the inside of the panel door, but others do not. Since they were only produced between 1994 and 2003, that that narrows it down considerably, even without a date stamp....

How old is my water heater?

Sunday, December 5, 2021
How old is my water heater?

Use serial number to find age of your water heater
The year of manufacture of your water heater is encoded in the serial number on the data sticker. It is usually the first two numbers or second two numbers in the series, but varies by company...

How do I determine the age of a Westinghouse electrical panel?

Saturday, December 4, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Westinghouse electrical panel?

The third number of the serial number stamped on the data sticker of a Westinghouse electrical panel is the single-digit year of manufacture, and the first two numbers are the week. Because the decade is not provided, it must be figured out from other...

What does an orange or yellow flame at gas furnace mean?

Friday, December 3, 2021
What does an orange or yellow flame at gas furnace mean?

A natural gas flame should be blue, with maybe just a small streak of orange at the tip, which indicates proper combustion. Any other color means incomplete gas combustion; which can be due to insufficient air supply, dirt buildup, or even a cracked...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Electrical Service

Thursday, December 2, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Electrical Service

Here’s links with answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about ELECTRICAL SERVICE:
• What is the minimum overhead electric service drop height/clearance to a house?

• Why is a leaning electrical service mast dangerous? 

What is an electrical service drop?

Thursday, December 2, 2021
What is an electrical service drop?

A "service drop" is the set of overhead wires running from an electric utility’s pole to a house or other building. The service drop is installed and maintained by the local electrical utility. It is connected at the “service point” (shown at arrow...

How do I find the size in BTU's of a GE Zoneline air condiitioner or heat pump from the model number?

Wednesday, December 1, 2021
How do I find the size in BTU's of a GE Zoneline air condiitioner or heat pump from the model number?

Look for the second set of two numbers between letters in the model number on the data sticker for the size in thousands of BTU’s of a GE Zoneline PTAC air conditioner or heat pump. For example, AZ45E15DAB indicates 15,000 BTU (1.25 tons) and AZ65H09DABW1...

How do I find the age of a GE Zoneline air conditioner or heat pump from the serial number?

Wednesday, December 1, 2021
How do I find the age of a GE Zoneline air conditioner or heat pump from the serial number?

The second letter of the serial number of a GE Zoneline PTAC air conditioner or heat pump indicates the year of manufacture, based on a 12-year repeating cycle:A = 2013, 2001, 1989D = 2014, 2002, 1990F = 2015, 2003, 1991G = 2016, 2004, 1992H = 2017,...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Old Electrical Panels

Sunday, November 28, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Old Electrical Panels

It doesn’t have to be a “fuse box” to be overdue for replacement. Many circuit breaker panels are now 60 years old or more and no longer providing adequate over-current protection for your home.
• What is the average life expectancy of an electrical...

What photos are required for a Wind Mitigation report (OIR-B1-1802) in Florida?

Sunday, November 28, 2021

"At least one photograph must accompany this form to validate each attribute marked in questions 3 through 7” is stated near the top of the Florida Wind Mitigation form (OIR-B1-1802).
Question #3 requires a photo that shows both the nail size,...

Does a Florida Wind Mitigation report evaluate roof condition?

Sunday, November 28, 2021
Does a Florida Wind Mitigation report evaluate roof condition?

Most of a Florida Wind Mitigation Inspection (OIR-B1-1802) is done in the home’s attic, and the inspector does not evaluate roof condition. 
May Trigger Request for Other Inspections
    But the report does require the inspector to verify...

When did code require replacement of cloth wiring in homes?

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Existing and undisturbed cloth-sheathed wiring in a home that is still “live” and in use is not required to be replaced—with only these two possible exceptions: the local building department may specify replacement of cloth wiring when a home is remodeled,...

Does code require venting a dryer outside?

Sunday, November 28, 2021
Does code require venting a dryer outside?

A dryer exhaust system must convey the moisture and heat to the outdoors, per International Residential Code (IRC M1502.3). 
Exception
    An exception is allowed only for listed and labeled (condensing) ductless clothes dryers (IRC M1502.1)....

What are common problems with split-bus electrical panels?

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

A split-bus panel has a gap in the bus bar(s), and requires that all the breakers in the upper bus bar (mains) be shut off to disconnect all power. One breaker in the upper bus bar disconnects the circuits in the lower bus bar. It is an older panel...

Are split-bus electrical panels illegal?

Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Are split-bus electrical panels illegal?

A split-bus panel requires shutting off up to six breakers to disconnect all the circuits served by the panel. There is no single main breaker. Although production of split-bus panels ended in the mid-1980s, the allowance for a “maximum six switch-throws"...

What type of pipes were used in 1940s homes?

Monday, November 22, 2021
What type of pipes were used in 1940s homes?

Water Supply
Galvanized steel was the most popular water pipe during the 1940s.
Copper was also used for water pipe.
Lead was still used by water utilites for service pipes to houses until the end of the decade, but not supply pipes inside...

What type of pipes were used in 1930s homes?

Monday, November 22, 2021
What type of pipes were used in 1930s homes?

Water Supply
Brass was a premium water pipe.
Galvanized steel was the most popular. .
Copper was beginning to come into regular use.
Lead was used by water utilites for service pipes to houses, but rarely for supply pipes inside...

What type of pipes were used in 1920s homes?

Monday, November 22, 2021
What type of pipes were used in 1920s homes?

Water Supply
Galvanized steel was coming into use.
Lead was still used inside the home until the end of the 1920s, and for public water supply pipes.
Drain (DWV)
Galvanized Steel for smaller waste pipes.
Cast Iron was used for...

Are water heater expansion tanks required by code?

Monday, November 22, 2021
Are water heater expansion tanks required by code?

A water heater thermal expansion tank is required for both original and replacement water heaters by the International Residential Code (IRC P2903.4). It’s necessary because water expands when heated and is an incompressible liquid. Without a thermal...

Why is my stucco chimney cracking?

Saturday, November 20, 2021
Why is my stucco chimney cracking?

There are several types of chimney structures that stucco is applied over, including brick and concrete block. But the stucco chimneys we see that have the most cracking problems are the wood-frame ones enclosing a manufactured metal fireplace flue....

Is a water softener bad for my water heater?

Thursday, November 18, 2021

When a water softener removes the minerals that make water “hard,” it reduces the stains, soap scum, and crusty buildup that clogs showerheads and coats pipe walls. That’s good. But the downside is that it also shortens the life of your tank water heater....

Are smoke alarms required to sell a house?

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Whether or not you need to have smoke alarms to sell your house depends on where you live. Some jurisdictions, like the state of Massahusetts, require a verification report by the local fire department before closing. Others, such as the City of Minneapolis,...

Do I need a permit to replace my water heater?

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Yes, a permit is required to replace a water heater in nearly all areas of the country today. An incompetently installed water heater is a safety hazard that can cause flooding, fire, explosion, or electrocution. No permit was necessary in one rural...

What is the minimum ceiling height in a basement?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The minimum ceiling height in a basement that does not contain habitable space is 6-feet 8-inches, per the International Residential Code (IRC R305.1.1). The IRC defines a habitable space as “a space in a building for living, sleeping, eating or cooking....

What is the minimum ceiling height in a bedroom?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021
What is the minimum ceiling height in a bedroom?

The minimum ceiling height of a bedroom is 7-feet, per International Residential Code (IRC 305.1). Also, a bedroom must have a minium floor area of 70 square feet, and a minimum wall length of 7-feet. Those dimensions are important because they are...

What is the minimum ceiling height in a shower?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021
What is the minimum ceiling height in a shower?

The minimum ceiling height over a shower is 6-feet 8-inches, with a minimum floor area of 30-inches by 30-inches, per International Residential Code (IRC R305.1).
For the minimum ceiling heights for other areas, click: Basements  Bathrooms  Bathtubs...

What is the minimum ceiling height over a bathtub?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021
What is the minimum ceiling height over a bathtub?

The minimum ceiling height over a bathtub with a shower is 6-feet 8-inches, and the ceiling minimum height above a bathtub without a shower “shall be such that the fixture is capable of being used for its intended purpose,” per International Residential...

What is the minimum ceiling height in a toilet room?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Toilet rooms must have a minimum ceiling height of 6-feet 8-inches. Where the ceiling is sloped, such as under a stairs, because the toilet fits in at the low side of the sloped ceiling under the stairs, the vertical clearance in front of it is the...

What is the minimum ceiling height of a kitchen?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021
What is the minimum ceiling height of a kitchen?

The minimum ceiling height of a kitchen is 7-feet, per International Residential Code (IRC R305.1). 
For the minimum ceiling heights for other areas, click: Basements  Bathrooms  Bathtubs  Bedrooms  Hallways   Garages  Laundry Rooms  Showers  Tiny...

What is a crown vent in plumbing?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The unvented S-traps under sink drains of the early 20th-century had a problem: suction, due to an air pressure differential between the front and back of the trap seal, often siphoned the trap water down the drain, which allowed obnoxious sewer gas...

What is the minimum trap arm length?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021
What is the minimum trap arm length?

The minimum trap arm length is two pipe diameters, as measured from the trap weir to the vent (not between the hubs of the fittings). So a 2” pipe would require a 4” trap arm minimum. It is not stated directly in the International Residential Code (IRC),...

What is the code minimum ceiling height for a garage?

Monday, November 15, 2021
What is the code minimum ceiling height for a garage?

There is no building code minimum height specification for a garage ceiling. But because a garage nowdays has a motorized overhead garage door, the height of the door combined with the headroom necessary for the track gives you a minimum ceiling height....

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Air Conditioning Troubleshooting

Sunday, November 14, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Air Conditioning Troubleshooting

“What happened? It was working just a minute ago!”…..Here’s links to our articles with strategies for figuring out the cause of an a/c problem, and how to fix it yourself when it’s fairly simple:
• Why has the thermostat screen gone blank? 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Temperature and Pressure Relief Valves

Sunday, November 14, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Temperature and Pressure Relief Valves

It’s been called a “water heater pop-off valve,” “overflow valve,” “TPR valve,” or “T&P valve.” Use whatever nickname you like, but the important thing to remember is that the temperature and pressure relief valve is a critical safety device that keeps...

Frquently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Tankless Gas Water Heaters

Saturday, November 13, 2021
Frquently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Tankless Gas Water Heaters

What’s to know about tankless gas water heaters? For one, unlike tank water heaters, they need a maintenance flush every couple of years; and two, they don’t work during a power failure. Othewise there’s plenty to like:
 • Why should a tankless...

Do I need a vacuum breaker (backflow preventer) for my sprinkler system by code?

Saturday, November 13, 2021
Do I need a vacuum breaker (backflow preventer) for my sprinkler system by code?

A vacuum breaker is only required for a sprinkler system that uses the same water source that provides potable water for the residence. So a sprinkler system served by a separate well, or by a recycled water system, does not require a vacuum breaker—because...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Manufactured/Mobile Home Water Heaters

Saturday, November 13, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Manufactured/Mobile Home Water Heaters

Mobile home water heaters are a little different than water heaters for site-built homes. Here’s answers to some of the questions we get about them:
• Where do I find the water heater in a mobile home?
• What is the red switch for in my mobile...

Can you run electrical and plumbing in the same wall cavity?

Friday, November 12, 2021

There are no code restrictions for running electrical cables and plumbing in the same wall cavity, but it would be common sense to keep at least a small separation between them. Running electrical and plumbing in the same trench in the ground is a different...

Who makes RunTru air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces?

Friday, November 12, 2021
Who makes RunTru air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces?

RunTru air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces are manufactured by Trane Technologies, Inc., and is their “value-conscious” brand. Also see our article How do I tell the size in tons of a RunTru heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

What is code for relocating an electrical panel?

Friday, November 12, 2021
What is code for relocating an electrical panel?

When moving an electrical panel box, there are four areas listed by National Electrical Code (NEC) at 240.42(C,D,E,F) where a panel cannot be located:1) Where exposed to physical damage.2) In the vicinity of easily ignitable material. Clothes closets...

Who makes Maytag air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces?

Thursday, November 11, 2021
Who makes Maytag air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces?

Maytag air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces are manufactured by Nortek Global HVAC, LLC, formerly Nordyne. Also see How can I tell the age of a Maytag heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number? and What size in tons is a Maytag air conditioner...

Who makes Goodman air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces?

Thursday, November 11, 2021
Who makes Goodman air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces?

Goodman air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces are made by Goodman Manufacturing Company, with headquarters in Houston, Texas. Goodman has been a subsidiary of Daikin Manufacturing, of Osaka, Japan, since 2012. 
    Also see How can I tell...

Who makes Amana air conditioners, heat pump, and furnaces?

Thursday, November 11, 2021
Who makes Amana air conditioners, heat pump, and furnaces?

Amana air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces are made by Goodman Manufacturing Company, with headquarters in Houston, Texas. Goodman has been a subsidiary of Daikin Manufacturing, of Osaka, Japan, since 2012. Also see How can I tell the age of an...

What is best location for attic access hatch?

Thursday, November 11, 2021
What is best location for attic access hatch?

Let’s start with the code requirements. A minimum of one attic access opening must be located in a “hallway or other readily accessible location” according to the International Residential Code (IRC R807). Also, the “minimum unobstructed headroom in...

How many receptacle outlets per room required by code?

Wednesday, November 10, 2021
How many receptacle outlets per room required by code?

It varies according to the room. First, here’s a list of receptacle requirements for rooms where a simple, minimum number is specified. Click on the links after each citation for more details:Bathrooms - Minimum of one per bathroom sink, within three...

Who makes Franklin air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces?

Monday, November 8, 2021
Who makes Franklin air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces?

Franklin air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces are made by Goodman Manufacturing Company, with headquarters in Houston, Texas. Goodman has been a subsidiary of Daikin Manufacturing, of Osaka, Japan, since 2012. Also see How do I tell the age of...

What is the code minimum height for an electrical panel?

Monday, November 8, 2021

The National Electrical Code (NEC) does not specify a minimum height for an electrical panel, although practical access for service should always be considered. But there is a maximum height allowed for an electrical panel, which is based on the height...

What is the fireman’s switch emergency disconnect requirement for residential electrical service?

Sunday, November 7, 2021
What is the fireman’s switch emergency disconnect requirement for residential electrical service?

Emergency Power Shut-Off Code
It’s informally called a fireman’s switch, but referred to in the National Electrical Code (NEC 230.85) as an emergency disconnect. They have been required for commerical building for quite a while, but the 2020 edition...

Does a homebuyer’s pest inspection include rats, mice, bedbugs, roaches, and ants?

Sunday, November 7, 2021
Does a homebuyer’s pest inspection include rats, mice, bedbugs, roaches, and ants?

“You need to get a pest inspection before closing” is what many realtors and lenders tell their customers. And it really is a requirement for some home purchase transactions, but the necessary inspection is limited to pests that can destroy the wood...

What are different types of exterior wall construction for a house?

Saturday, November 6, 2021
What are different types of exterior wall construction for a house?

There are dozens of uncommon materials and ways to build the walls of a house, such as rammed earth or straw bales, along with cutting edge new ones like 3D-printing. But here’s the seven wall structural types most often used today, listed in approximate...

What is causing soft spots in my mobile/manufactured home floor?

Thursday, November 4, 2021
What is causing soft spots in my mobile/manufactured home floor?

Soft spots in a mobile home floor are always caused by an area of long-term or repeated wetness, and it can come from above, below, or the side:
ABOVE - A poorly installed marriage line connection at the ridge line of a double-wide can allow a...

Can heavy rain cause a septic tank back up?

Thursday, November 4, 2021
Can heavy rain cause a septic tank back up?

Yes, heavy rain can saturate the ground in the drainfield area, blocking absorption into the soil of the water flowing out of the septic tank, and causing it to back up towards the house. This is more likely to happen at an older drainfield that is...

How long does tent fumigation keep drywood termites away?

Tuesday, November 2, 2021
How long does tent fumigation keep drywood termites away?

While tent fumigation is extremely effective at killing all the drywood termites in a house, it leaves behind no residual chemicals to protect the home. Although theoretically they could move back in the day after the tent is removed, the good news...

Does code require a weep screed for stucco over concrete block?

Monday, November 1, 2021

No, a weep screed is only required by the International Residential Code (IRC - R703.2.1) for stucco over a wood stud framed wall, to allow any water that penetrates the stucco layer to drain safely out at the bottom of the wall without damaging the...

Is a vapor barrier required by code under a concrete floor slab?

Monday, November 1, 2021
Is a vapor barrier required by code under a concrete floor slab?

A vapor barrier (also called a vapor retarder) is required by the International Residential Code (IRC R506.2.3) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code for concrete floor slabs on grade at the heated areas of a home. It is not required...

Is a ceiling required in a garage by code?

Sunday, October 31, 2021
Is a ceiling required in a garage by code?

A ceiling is not required in an attached garage, but fire separation of 1/2” drywall, or the equivalent, between garage and living area of home is necessary per code. So, if you don’t have a drywall garage ceiling, then the wall between garage and house...

How do I tell the size in tons of a RunTru heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Sunday, October 31, 2021
How do I tell the size in tons of a RunTru heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

For size in tons of RunTru unit, you should look for two numbers in the middle of the model number on the condenser data plate that are divisible by 6 or 12, and represent the nominal BTU of the system in thousands. A ton of air conditioning equals...

Why is the top of the well casing so far above the ground?

Friday, October 29, 2021
Why is the top of the well casing so far above the ground?

The top of a well casing is required to be a minimum of two-feet above the highest recorded flood level in the area, to avoid flooding of the well. So the height of the well casing shown above indicates an historic flood level of about three-feet above...

Is it hard to sell a house near a high-voltage power line?

Friday, October 29, 2021
Is it hard to sell a house near a high-voltage power line?

Because of the concern about possible increased cancer risk due to living near high-voltage transmission lines, the pool of possible buyers will be less than for a home away from the lines. Unfortunately, we found no data about what percentage of homebuyers...

What is the difference between specified and classified circuit breakers?

Friday, October 29, 2021
What is the difference between specified and classified circuit breakers?

“Specified" breakers are the ones approved by the manufacturer of an electrical panel as acceptable for installation in their panel. A specified breaker is usually also manufactured by the same company as the panel, but not always. Thomas & Betts, for...

Why does my air conditioner keep shutting itself off?

Thursday, October 28, 2021

If your air conditioner doesn’t seem to be cooling adequately, and you notice that the system has shut off even though it didn’t reach your temperature setting, then there are four things that can cause this problem:
Clogged condensate line - Your...

Why is there a burnt smell when I turn on the heat?

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

That burnt smell usually only happens the first time you turn the thermostat to heat for a electric heat pump or air conditioner at the beginning of the cold season. It’s due to built-up dust inside the air handler. Dust on the evaporator coils makes...

What is a classified circuit breaker?

Tuesday, October 26, 2021
What is a classified circuit breaker?

“Classified” circuit breakers are made by one manufacturer to be installed as replacement breakers in a panel produced by another manufacturer. They are officially called “UL Classified,” meaning that Underwriters Laboratories has tested and approved...

Does code require a water shut-off valve for dishwashers?

Sunday, October 24, 2021
Does code require a water shut-off valve for dishwashers?

A dishwaster has a hot water line connection and is classified as a “plumbing appliance." Plumbing appliances are required to have a shut-off valve. Here’s how it is stated at P2903.9.3 of the 2017 Residenital Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC)...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Water Shut-Off Valves

Sunday, October 24, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Water Shut-Off Valves

Water shut-off valves need to be both accessible and functional (not frozen) for emergency use, or just to change out a plumbing fixture. Here’s a collection of our articles about them:
• How do I find the main water shut off valve for my house?

When is a roof excluded from the calculation for the hip roof discount on a Florida wind mitigation form?

Sunday, October 24, 2021
When is a roof excluded from the calculation for the hip roof discount on a Florida wind mitigation form?

A hip roof slopes upward and inward on all sides. The hip shape is proven to be more hurricane-resistant than a gable, flat, or shed roof shape. So the Florida Wind Mitigation Form (OIR-B1-1802) provides its largest discount on your homeowners insurance...

What are the common problems to look for when buying a house built in the 2000s?

Wednesday, October 20, 2021
What are the common problems to look for when buying a house built in the 2000s?

The decade of 2000 to 2010 was two-thirds building boom and one third an economic meltdown commonly referred to as the “Great Recession.” The roaring real estate market that ended in 2007 meant that builders rushed to meet demand as prices increased...

Can an electrical panel be located at a stair landing?

Thursday, October 14, 2021

It’s acceptable as long as the landing meets the code requirement for a safe access area in front of the panel: 2’-6” wide by 3’-0” deep level floor below it, and 6’-6” high clear above floor in front of it [NEC 110.26 (A)(1,2,3)]. The panel is not...

Can an electrical panel be located under stairs?

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

It might be possible…just maybe. While not specifically excluded by the National Electrical Code (NEC), there are two code standards that a panel must comply with to be located under a stair:1) The under-stair space is usally a closet, and a panel cannot...

How long does concrete driveway resurfacing last?

Monday, October 11, 2021
How long does concrete driveway resurfacing last?

You can expect a resurfaced driveway finish to last 8 to 15 years, with an average of 12 years. Careful surface prep before applying the resurfacing material is the key to a long-lasting finish. Keeping the surface clean to avoid abrasion from walking...

What is an MRD Energy Model R-80?

Monday, October 11, 2021
What is an MRD Energy Model R-80?

If you come across a mysterious gray box with electrical conduit connected to it that’s marked “MRD Energy Model R-80" and not much else, except for “Caution: do not open, risk of electrical shock, no serviceable parts” and the ominous warning  “If...

Is an escutcheon plate required by code for safety?

Sunday, October 10, 2021
Is an escutcheon plate required by code for safety?

Yes, an escutcheon plate is required by plumbing codes: “Collars or escutcheon plates shall be provided to cover the openings around pipes penetrating walls, floors, or ceilings in finished areas that are exposed to view.” An escutcheon plate is the...

Does a garage door opener need its own separate dedicated circuit?

Sunday, October 10, 2021
Does a garage door opener need its own separate dedicated circuit?

No, a garage door opener is not required to be on a separate, dedicated circuit. But, the ceiling receptacle outlet that it’s plugged into must be GFCI-protected. Which leads to an additional requirement: since the reset for a GFCI device, either a...

How loud does the noise get while putting on a new roof?

Friday, October 8, 2021
How loud does the noise get while putting on a new roof?

Pretty darn loud. You may want to leave home for at least part of the time while your roof is replaced. There’s the sound of boots on the roof, scraping sounds and thuds as the old roofing is removed and new shingle bundles dropped on the roof. Then...

Is a radon test required to sell a house?

Thursday, October 7, 2021
Is a radon test required to sell a house?

There are no federal or state stautes that require a radon test to sell a house. Only a local jurisdiction in a high-radon area might mandate one, so you are very likely not required to test for radon to sell your home.
    But there are specific...

How do I pick the right contractor to fix my stucco?

Thursday, October 7, 2021
How do I pick the right contractor to fix my stucco?

If you are asking this question, it’s likely that you have a stucco-over-wood-frame home with large crack patterns, bulges, and wet spots in the stucco. These problems tend to happen more often in Florida homes constructed during the building boom up...

How can I make my garage cooler in the Florida heat?

Thursday, October 7, 2021
How can I make my garage cooler in the Florida heat?

Temperatures of over 100º F occur regularly in Florida garages every summer, and they are caused by three factors that all converge each hot afternoon. First, a garage is not a conditioned living space, so it is not required to have insulation in the...

Does code require an exterior electrical receptacle outlet near the front door of a house?

Thursday, October 7, 2021
Does code require an exterior electrical receptacle outlet near the front door of a house?

Not exactly. The current code requires a receptacle outlet at the front and back exterior walls of a home, but does not specify where along those walls they must be located. For more details and the history of this requirement, see our article Is a...

Where can a return air opening/register NOT be located by code?

Thursday, October 7, 2021
Where can a return air opening/register NOT be located by code?

"Return air shall not be taken from a closet, bathroom, toilet room, kitchen, garage, mechanical room, boiler room, furnace room, or unconditioned attic,” according to the 2021 International Residential Code [M1602.2(4)] and the Residential Edition...

What is that strange retro-looking smoke alarm?

Wednesday, October 6, 2021
What is that strange retro-looking smoke alarm?

It may look like a smoke alarm, but it's actually an old-fashioned wind-up mechanical heat detector fire alarm. A hot room temperature, instead of smoke, is what it takes to set one off. Because the device is mechanical, it must be wound up with key...

Do flat roofs always leak?

Monday, October 4, 2021
Do flat roofs always leak?

Not true. But it may seem like that to a frustrated homeowner with an older flat (low-slope) roof. Here’s three reasons why:
1) Flat roofs leak more water when the roof begins to fail - A sloped roof only has to resist water briefly as it rolls...

What is a 5V roof?

Monday, October 4, 2021
What is a 5V roof?

“5V” is the shortened name for a 5V-crimp metal roof. It is the traditional profile for a metal roof, named for the five inverted V’s running down the length of each panel, two at each end and one in the middle.

    Most 5V-crimp roof panels...

What are the pros and cons of a standing seam metal roof?

Sunday, October 3, 2021
What are the pros and cons of a standing seam metal roof?

Standing seam metal roofs are easily recognized by the rows of raised fins running up the roof slope, and they are becoming more popular lately. Here’s the good and not-so-good about them:
PROS•• No exposed fasteners - The is the biggest advantage...

How do I find the size in tons of a Tappan air conditioner or heat pump from the model number?

Saturday, October 2, 2021
How do I find the size in tons of a Tappan air conditioner or heat pump from the model number?

You can determine the “nominal” condenser tonnage of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning filter, the exact cooling...

How do I determine the age of a Tappan air conditioner or heat pump from the serial number?

Saturday, October 2, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Tappan air conditioner or heat pump from the serial number?

Tappan is a brand of HVAC equipment that was formerly manufactured by Nortek. The fourth and fifth characters in the serial number are the year of manufacture for a Tappan system. So the serial number shown below on the data plate of a Tappan air handler...

Are bare-bulb light fixtures (lamp holders) legal by code?

Saturday, October 2, 2021
Are bare-bulb light fixtures (lamp holders) legal by code?

They are called lamp holders because “lamp” is an antiquated term for a light bulb and “holder” is the socket base that the light bulb screws into. Lamp holders were once porcelain and now often plastic.They are still code-approved, but with a couple...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Safety Tempered Glass

Friday, October 1, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Safety Tempered Glass

Here’s links to a collection of our articles about safety tempered glass, what it is and where it’s required in a home:
• Where is safety/tempered glass required for the windows and doors of a house?
• How can I tell if a window or glass door...

What is code for the step-down at the landing for an exterior door?

Thursday, September 30, 2021
What is code for the step-down at the landing for an exterior door?

The step-down requirements to a landing at an exterior door of a home depends on whether the door is an egress door or just a regular exterior door. The egress door standards are more stringent, per the International Residential Code (IRC R311.1) and...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Attic Access Hatches, Ladders, and Doors

Thursday, September 30, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Attic Access Hatches, Ladders, and Doors

“Where is the attic?” That’s the one question we get asked most often when inspecting older houses. Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about attic access:
• Where is the attic?
• Why is there no attic access hatch in the house?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Stair Landings

Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Stair Landings

Stair landings are a transition point between vertical and horizontal motion as you move through a building, and that transition is where stair accidents are most likely to happen. Here’s links to a collection of our articles about them:
• Is a...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Bathroom Exhaust Fans

Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Bathroom Exhaust Fans

We don’t call them “fart fans” because it would be unprofessional. But removing those stinky bathroom smells, along with the mist and humidity from showering and bathing, is what they do. Here’s links to a collection of our articles about bathroom exhaust...

How can I tell if a sunken area in my yard is a sinkhole?

Tuesday, September 28, 2021
How can I tell if a sunken area in my yard is a sinkhole?

If you have discovered a depression or hole in the ground that appears to be growing, it could well be a sinkhole. But a number of other things can cause the ground to drop, including:•• Decomposing trash or organic material underground, such as debris...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Polybutylene (PB) Pipe

Monday, September 27, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Polybutylene (PB) Pipe

It started out as a wonder material that was flexible and used crimp fittings that could be easily clamped into place with a handheld tool, eliminating the need for a professional plumber. But, in the decades after PB was introduced in the U.S., a tidal...

Do I have to bring my house up to code to sell it?

Monday, September 27, 2021
Do I have to bring my house up to code to sell it?

A municipal building inspector verifies that a new house complies with the building code at the time of construction. But codes are all about life-safety issues and are constantly evolving. So there will be things that don’t meet the current code even...

Why does concrete shrink as it sets and hardens?

Sunday, September 26, 2021
Why does concrete shrink as it sets and hardens?

Concrete is created when cement, water, and rock aggregate are mixed together. The cement and water mixture turns into a paste that bonds with the aggregate as it sets. This happens through a curious process called hydration: the cement chemically cracks...

How can I tell the size in tons of a Pioneer mini-split heat pump from the model number?

Saturday, September 25, 2021
How can I tell the size in tons of a Pioneer mini-split heat pump from the model number?

Look for two numbers in the center of the model number that are divisible by 12 or 6, which is the BTU rating times 1,000. A ton of air conditioning equals 12,000 BTU, so a 12 would indicate 1 ton. Here’s couple of examples: WYS024GMFI19RL = 2 tons,...

Should I fix all the defects listed in a four point inspection report right away or submit it to the insurance company first?

Saturday, September 25, 2021
Should I fix all the defects listed in a four point inspection report right away or submit it to the insurance company first?

If you want to limit the expense of the repairs, we suggest first submitting the report to your insurance company and waiting to get a list of what they want fixed before proceeding with any repairs. We have done a lot of four points over the years,...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Air Conditioning Condensate Drain Lines

Saturday, September 25, 2021

They drain the water that drips off the evaporator coils in the air handler and, ideally, carry it safely away. But a clogged line leads to a soggy mess under the unit. Here’s links to our articles about a/c condesate drain lines:
• Does code require...

Does code require a P-trap in an a/c condensate drain?

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Current IRC and Florida code (M1411.3) does not require a p-trap in the condensate drain line. It only specifies a minimum 1/8” per foot slope for the line, and that the condensate "shall not discharge into a street, alley or other areas where it would...

When are sinkholes most likely to occur?

Wednesday, September 22, 2021
When are sinkholes most likely to occur?

Sinkholes are most likely to open up when there has been a long drought followed by normal rainfall. And a mild drought followed by the excessive rainfall from a hurricane can also increase the incidence of sinkholes. "A large rain event can weigh the...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about PVC pipe

Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about PVC pipe

PolyVinyl Chloride pipe has been used in the U.S. since the 1950s for both water supply and sewer pipes. Like other pipe materials, it has both good qualities and limitations. Here’s links to a collection of our articles about PVC:

 • Are...

How do I determine the age of a Pioneer mini-split heat pump from the serial number?

Monday, September 20, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Pioneer mini-split heat pump from the serial number?

The date of manufacture of a Pioneer heat pump is not encoded in the serial number. However, you can call or email them with the serial number and they will look it up in their database and respond with the manufacture date. The serial number is 22-digits...

Is a seller responsible to disclose defects found in a previous home inspection to a new buyer?

Sunday, September 19, 2021
Is a seller responsible to disclose defects found in a previous home inspection to a new buyer?

The level of seller disclosure necessary for defects found in a previous inspection depends on the state where the home is located. Florida, for example, only makes sellers responsible for disclosing defects that they have actual knowledge of at the...

What if my home inspector has already inspected the house recently for someone else?

Sunday, September 19, 2021
What if my home inspector has already inspected the house recently for someone else?

The condition of a house can change over even a short period of time, so it's best to have it examined again. And here's three other reasons to have your inspector look at it a second time:1) You have the advantage of being shown the defects first-hand...

What can I do if the insurance company denies my claim for a sinkhole loss in Florida?

Sunday, September 12, 2021
What can I do if the insurance company denies my claim for a sinkhole loss in Florida?

The State of Florida’s “Sinkhole Neutral Evaluation Program” may be able to help you. Here’s what it can do for you, according to the state's Chief Financial Officer:
Upon receipt of a claim for a sinkhole loss to a covered building, Florida law...

How do I determine the size in tons of a Senville heat pump air conditioner from the model number?

Saturday, September 11, 2021
How do I determine the size in tons of a Senville heat pump air conditioner from the model number?

Look at the first two numbers after several letters at the beginning of the model number for a Senville heat pump air conditioner. It will be a number divisible by 6 or 12, and represents the nominal BTU of the system in thousands. A ton of air conditioning...

How do I determine the age of a Senville heat pump air conditioner from the serial number?

Thursday, September 9, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Senville heat pump air conditioner from the serial number?

The date of manufacture of a Senville unit is not encoded in the serial number. However, you can call or email their tech support department with the serial number and they will look it up in their database and respond with the manufacture date. The...

Can I use Romex® (NM-cable) with a male plug connected to a receptacle outlet.

Monday, September 6, 2021
Can I use Romex® (NM-cable) with a male plug connected to a receptacle outlet.

Using NM-cable with a male plug connected to a wall receptacle is not acceptable for multiple reasons:
1) NM-cable uses stiff, solid wire and is rated only for permanent installation between electrical boxes. Also, the cable must be protected from...

Can you mount an electrical panel face up?

Sunday, September 5, 2021

“Panelboards shall not be mounted in the face-up position,” according to the National Electrical Code (NEC 408.43). But the code does allow you to mount an electrical panel face-down, with the requirement that any breakers or switches be not higher...

Can you mount an electrical panel face down?

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Yes, the National Electrical Code (NEC) allows you to mount an electrical panel face-down, with the requirement that any breakers or switches be not higher than 6-foot 7-inches above the floor [NEC 240.24(A)]. The code, however, does not allow panels...

Why is my metal roof leaking?

Thursday, September 2, 2021
Why is my metal roof leaking?

Most of the time a leak in a metal roof can be traced to an installation problem. Here's our list of problems that lead to leakage:
Panels improperly installed -  Homeowner installed roofs often put the male (flange) edge exposed on top, which...

Should I be suspicious of an old wood frame house covered with vinyl siding?

Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Should I be suspicious of an old wood frame house covered with vinyl siding?

An older wood home that has been wrapped with vinyl siding always makes us wonder what’s under there. Is there new wall sheathing and house wrap, or did the remodeler just nail vinyl over deteriorated older wood siding in bad condition.
    Why...

Is vinyl siding waterproof?

Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Is vinyl siding waterproof?

Vinyl siding is not designed to be waterproof. According to the Vinyl Siding Institute, a national trade organization, “vinyl siding, insulated siding, and polypropylene siding are exterior claddings, not water-resistive barriers, and are designed to...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Vinyl Siding

Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is the most popular cladding for house walls in America. Here’s a selection of our articles about vinyl, both the good and bad:
• What are the pros and cons of vinyl siding?
• Can vinyl lap siding be installed diagonally? 

What is a vinyl siding zipper tool?

Tuesday, August 31, 2021
What is a vinyl siding zipper tool?

A vinyl siding zipper is one of those handy specialty tools you’ll wonder how you ever did without once you’ve used it. Just hook it under the groove between two vinyl siding strips, and then pull down and away, to unlatch them. The tool also makes...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Air Conditioning Air Handling Units (AHU)

Monday, August 30, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Air Conditioning Air Handling Units (AHU)

An air handler is also called the “inside unit” of a split-system air conditioner. Here’s links to a collection of our articles about them:
• What is the requirement for a service receptacle outlet for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Air Conditioning Condensers

Monday, August 30, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Air Conditioning Condensers

A condenser is also called the “outside unit” of a split-system air conditioner. Here’s links to a collection of our articles about them:
• Why does an air conditioner condenser unit need to be level? 
• How do I understand the air conditioner...

What is the difference between a fan coil unit (FCU) and an air handling unit (AHU)?

Thursday, August 26, 2021
What is the difference between a fan coil unit (FCU) and an air handling unit (AHU)?

A fan coil unit (FCU, shown above) is simple and self-contained, and consists of just a coil and fan. Although most often seen as part of a commercial refrigeration system, we occasionally find a horizontal FCU installed in the ceilling of the hallway...

What is the difference between an upflow, downflow, and horizontal air handler or furnace?

Thursday, August 26, 2021
What is the difference between an upflow, downflow, and horizontal air handler or furnace?

These designations refer to the direction that air flows through the air handler or furnace.
Upflow - Air comes in the bottom and goes out the top. This is the most common  installation type in Florida.
Downflow - Air comes in at the top and...

Why is my insurance company requiring a Wind Mitigation inspection?

Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Why is my insurance company requiring a Wind Mitigation inspection?

The purpose of a wind mitigation report is to provide relief from high insurance costs for Florida homeowners that own a sturdy, wind-resistant home. Insurers are required by the State of Florida to give a discount for the hurricane-reistant features...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Ceilings

Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Ceilings

Always look up when examining the interior of a house you're considering buying. Ceilings can expose problems in a house that might otherwise be missed. Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about CEILINGS: 
• What causes dark or light...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Hallways

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Although a hallway is a primarily route between rooms, it is also a room in itself, with its own specific requirements. Here’s some of blog posts about HALLWAYS:
• How many electrical receptacle outlets are required in a hallway?
• What is...

What is the code minimum height for a hallway ceiling?

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The minimum height of a residential hallway ceiling is 6-feet 8-inches, per International Residential Code (IRC R305.1.1). 
For the minimum ceiling heights for other areas, click: Basements  Bathrooms  Bathtubs  Bedrooms  Hallways   Garages  Kitchens...

Are two light switches required for a long hallway?

Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Are two light switches required for a long hallway?

The National Electrical Code requires at least one switched light fixture in a residential hallway [NEC 210.70(2)(1)]. There is no code standard for two switches on a long hallway. One electrician we know mentioned that he had heard that a second switch...

How do I determine the age of First Co. HVAC units from the serial number?

Monday, August 23, 2021

The first letter of the serial number denotes the year of manufacture for First Co. products, based on the listing below. The serial number may be noted on two lines, as below, or one line.

A = 1994     B = 1995     C = 1996     D = 1997...

Does the seller get a copy of the home inspection report?

Thursday, August 19, 2021
Does the seller get a copy of the home inspection report?

Sellers often ask us if they will get a copy of the inspection report. The short answer is that it's entirely up to the buyer, who paid for and owns the information. One exception is when the sales contract includes an added clause that specifies that...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Roof Defects

Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Roof Defects

A roof protects everything in the home underneath it, but most homeowners don’t pay their roof much attention until something goes wrong, followed by a frantic rush to fix it—especially in Florida’s summer rain and hurricane season. Here’s a list of...

How can I make my Florida air conditioner last longer?

Wednesday, August 11, 2021
How can I make my Florida air conditioner last longer?

Air conditioning systems don’t last as long in Florida as in the more temperate climates further north—only 14 years on average. And at homes near the coast or in South Florida they might only survive for 10 years. But you can use these 7 techniques...

Can I install a pet/doggy door to a pool screen enclosure/cage area?

Sunday, August 8, 2021

A pet door at your pool screen enclosure, either from the house or to the yard, is not compliant with Florida pool safety standards if the screen cage is the only child-safety barrier provided. "Children regularly drown in backyard pools which they...

How do I determine the age of a Challenger electrical panel?

Friday, August 6, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Challenger electrical panel?

The first two numbers in a stamp at the wiring diagram on the door of a Challenger panelboard are the week of manufacture, and the third digit is the year. This does not tell you which decade, which will have to be determined from other clues. The example...

How do I determine the age of a Gould electrical panel?

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Some Gould panels have a stamp on the wiring diagram sticker, and the last two digits are the year of manufacture. So the two shown below were manufactured in 1977 and 1983. Also, some panels do not have this stamp.


Any panel with the...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Clothes Dryer Vents

Tuesday, August 3, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Clothes Dryer Vents

Proper venting and regular cleaning of a clothes dryer is serious stuff. An average of 2,900 dryer fires are reported each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. The fires cause an annual toll of five deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million...

What causes honeycomb in concrete?

Tuesday, July 27, 2021
What causes honeycomb in concrete?

Honeycomb is the hollow space in what should be solid concrete, so-called because of its loose resemblance to the honeycomb in a bee hive. It can be caused by inadequate vibration of the concrete after placement, low slump (lack of liquidity to allow...

What is the difference between a control joint and an expansion joint?

Sunday, July 25, 2021

A control joint is used to minimize cracking in the surface of a material. One example would be the control joints used for installing stucco over a wood frame wall. Because the stucco expands and contracts at a different rate than the wall under it,...

Do the wheels and towing hitch have to be removed when a mobile/manufactured home is installed?

Saturday, July 24, 2021
Do the wheels and towing hitch have to be removed when a mobile/manufactured home is installed?

The towing hitch is always removed. Sometimes we see the axles left in place under the home, but usually they are taken away by the installer and recycled. HUD requires that both the tow bar and axles/tires, which they call the “running gear,” be removed...

What are the signs my flat roof needs to be replaced?

Friday, July 23, 2021
What are the signs my flat roof needs to be replaced?

Here’s two key differences between flat (low slope) roofs and sloped roofs as they age:
•• The overall condition of a sloped roof is easily observed from the ground at a glance. But out-of-sight means out-of-mind, so a flat roof often doesn’t get...

What causes ponding (standing water) on a flat roof?

Tuesday, July 20, 2021
What causes ponding (standing water) on a flat roof?

A few puddles on a flat roof after a heavy rain are normal. But when they are still there two days later, you have a problem. Standing water deteriorates the area of roofing under it, causing premature leaks, and tends to collect unsightly and acidic...

What are Florida requirements for new home termite treatment?

Sunday, July 18, 2021
What are Florida requirements for new home termite treatment?

Florida requires a protective barrier against termites between the ground and a new house, and allows multiple different ways to provide it, "including soil applied pesticides, baiting systems, and pesticides applied to wood, or other approved methods...

Why are AFCI circuit breakers warm even when no power is being drawn?

Sunday, July 18, 2021
Why are AFCI circuit breakers warm even when no power is being drawn?

There’s an electronic circuit inside an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter breaker (both AFCI and CAFCI types) that generates enough heat, even when there is no load on the circuit, to make it 10º to 20º hotter than surrounding regular breakers with no current...

Do windows in a house have to open to pass a home inspection?

Friday, July 16, 2021
Do windows in a house have to open to pass a home inspection?

If the windows are designed to be openable, then the inspector will test a representative number of them—but not all. If they are found immovable, difficult to open, or damaged, those defects will get noted in the report. An inspector’s report does...

How do I determine the age of a Westinghouse furnace?

Thursday, July 15, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Westinghouse furnace?

The fourth and fifth digits of a Westinghouse furnace serial number are the year of manufacture, and they should follow three digits of letters. So the serial number shown below indicates manufacture in 2009.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •...

Does a GFCI trip if you overload the circuit?

Thursday, July 15, 2021
Does a GFCI trip if you overload the circuit?

A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) device only trips when there is a difference between the amount of current leaving it and the amount returning to it. This current leakage indicates that a person might be getting shocked, and it trips within...

What happens to my Florida wind mitigation insurance discount for hurricane shutters/windows if even just one opening is not protected?

Thursday, July 8, 2021
What happens to my Florida wind mitigation insurance discount for hurricane shutters/windows if even just one opening is not protected?

All exterior openings must be protected from wind-blown debris by windows, shutters, or other code-approved devices to get the “Opening Protection” discount on the Florida Wind Mitigation form OIR-B1-1802. Unfortunately, If even just one is not compliant,...

How can I determine the age of a Sta-Rite well water pump?

Wednesday, July 7, 2021
How can I determine the age of a Sta-Rite well water pump?

Look for the “Code" listed on the data plate for the age of a Sta-Rite water pump. The two numbers near the end of it are the year of manufacture, and the letter before them is the month (A = Jan, B = Feb, C = March, etc). So the Code shown above indicates...

How is water getting into the outside walls of my home?

Wednesday, July 7, 2021
How is water getting into the outside walls of my home?

To better understand the ways that water can penetrate an exterior wall of your home, let’s start with the fact that water intrusion is not always liquid. It has three different states according to temperature, each with unique properties. The other...

How do I determine the age of a DiamondAir heat pump or air conditioner?

Tuesday, June 29, 2021
How do I determine the age of a DiamondAir heat pump or air conditioner?

The first two numbers in the serial number are the month, and the third and fourth numbers are the year of manufacture for a DiamondAir system. If the serial number is missing from the data plate, or worn away, you can call DiamondAir tech support at...

How does concrete spalling cause structural failure if not repaired?

Saturday, June 26, 2021
How does concrete spalling cause structural failure if not repaired?

Concrete reinforced with steel is an almost magical combination. Each material has a structural quality that compensates for the other’s weakness. Steel has excellent tensile strength, which means that it resists bending, but it is weak in compression....

How do I test an ungrounded receptacle for GFCI protection on a 2-wire circuit?

Friday, June 25, 2021
How do I test an ungrounded receptacle for GFCI protection on a 2-wire circuit?

If the receptacle is a GFCI-type with TEST and RESET buttons, just push the TEST button. It does not require a ground connection to verify that the GFCI protection is functional.
    But a single GFCI receptacle will protect all the other receptacles...

Will a GFCI tester work on a receptacle outlet with no ground on a 2-wire circuit?

Friday, June 25, 2021
Will a GFCI tester work on a receptacle outlet with no ground on a 2-wire circuit?

No. All GFCI receptacles with the push-buttons in the center trip when they detect a difference between the amount of current flowing into the receptacle on the ungrounded (hot, white) wire and out of it on the grounded (neutral, black) conductor. When...

Do home inspectors actually use a magnifying glass?

Thursday, June 24, 2021
Do home inspectors actually use a magnifying glass?

Close to half of all home inspector business cards include a graphic of a magnifying glass hovering over a miniature house—and half of those have a Sherlock Holmes lookalike holding the magnifying glass. It’s meant to convince a prospective customer...

Can a water heater thermal expansion tank be installed sideways/horizontally?

Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Can a water heater thermal expansion tank be installed sideways/horizontally?

Most expansion tanks are designed to be installed vertically (stem up or stem down). You can install one sideways, but it will shorten the lifespan unless it is designed and specified by the manufacturer for horizontal installation. The tank shown above...

What size in tons is my Broan air conditioner or heat pump?

Monday, June 21, 2021
What size in tons is my Broan air conditioner or heat pump?

You can determine the size in tons of your Broan HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look for two numbers at the end of the model number that are divisible by 6 or 12, which will represent...

How can I tell the age of my Broan air conditioner, heat pump or furnace from the serial number?

Monday, June 21, 2021
How can I tell the age of my Broan air conditioner, heat pump or furnace from the serial number?

The fourth and fifth digits of the serial number are the year of manufacture of a Broan air conditioner, heat pump or furnace are the year of manufacture. So the data plate shown below indicates it was produced in 2011. Broan one of the family of brands...

Does hurricane shutter installation require a building permit in Florida?

Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Does hurricane shutter installation require a building permit in Florida?

Yes, a building permit is required for hurricane shutter installation in Florida. If you don’t have a permit and/or documentation from a licensed contractor of the Florida or Miami-Dade product approvals for your shutters, you may not be able to get...

What size in tons is my Gibson heat pump or air conditioner from the model number?

Tuesday, June 15, 2021
What size in tons is my Gibson heat pump or air conditioner from the model number?

You can determine the size in tons of your Champion HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look for the second cluster of digits of the model number. It will be a number divisible by...

How can I tell the age of a Gibson heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Tuesday, June 15, 2021
How can I tell the age of a Gibson heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

The fourth and fifth digits of the serial number of a Gibson heat pump or air conditioner are the year of manufacture. So the serial number JSG141118220 indicates the unit was produced in 2014. Gibson is manufactured by Nortek.
    To determine...

Are carbon monoxide (CO) alarms required in mobile/manufactured homes?

Monday, June 14, 2021

Carbon monoxide (CO) alarms became required in the recent updating of the HUD code on January 12, 2021, and effective July 12, 2021. It states that “carbon monoxide alarms must be installed in each home containing either a fuel burning appliance or...

What temperature is too hot for a circuit breaker?

Sunday, June 13, 2021

All circuit breakers generate a small amount of heat and may be several degrees warmer than surrounding surfaces. But the temperature of a residential circuit breaker in a panel should not exceed about 140º F; or, on hot days, it’s better to only call...

Will cloth wiring cause me to fail a four-point insurance inspection?

Saturday, June 12, 2021
Will cloth wiring cause me to fail a four-point insurance inspection?

Electricians call it “rag wiring” and, according to Citizens Insurance, the presence of active cloth-covered wiring in an older home does not automatically mean it will fail a four-point inspection. Citizens is the largest insurer in Florida, and most...

What are the code requirements for loft guard rails in a Tiny House?

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Here’s the standards of the International Residential Code for loft guards (IRC AQ104.2.5):• Must be installed at the open sides of a loft.• Not less than 36 inches in height or half of the clear height of the opening, whichever is less.• Must comply...

What are the code requirements for a ladder to a Tiny House loft?

Monday, June 7, 2021

Here’s what is required for a loft ladder in a Tiny House, per the International Residential Code (IRC AQ104.2.2):• Rung width of not less than 12 inches.• 10 to 14 inch spacing between rungs.• Capable of supporting 300 pounds on any rung.• Rung spacing...

What are the code requirements for a stairway to a Tiny House loft?

Monday, June 7, 2021

The International Residential Code (IRC) is a little more lenient on the minimum specs for a Tiny House loft stairway than a regular house. Here’s their requirements:• Stairway to loft must be minimum 17 inches in clear width at or above the handrail,...

What are the code requirements for emergency escape from a Tiny House loft?

Monday, June 7, 2021

The code requires that all bedrooms, including those in Tiny Houses, provide a second means of escape directly to the exterior in case a fire blocks the regular path to get out of the house. This is accomplished by having at least one “egress window”...

TINY HOUSES

Monday, June 7, 2021
TINY HOUSES

Tiny Houses have become a big thing lately, so the recent editions of the International Residential Code (IRC) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) added code standards specific to them in Appendix Q. Here’s links to some of...

What is the code minimum ceiling height of a Tiny House?

Monday, June 7, 2021
What is the code minimum ceiling height of a Tiny House?

Habitable space and hallways of a Tiny House must have a minimum ceiling height of 6 feet 8 inches, per International Residential Code (IRC AQ103.1). Bathrooms, toilet rooms and kitchens can go as low as 6 feet 4 inches, but any obstructions, such as...

What is the code minimum size of a Tiny House loft?

Monday, June 7, 2021
What is the code minimum size of a Tiny House loft?

These are the minimum requirements for a Tiny House loft:• Minimum of 35 square feet (IRC AQ104.1.1).• Portions of the loft with a sloped ceiling height below 3 feet do not count towards the minimum floor area (IRC AQ104.1.3). But one exception is allowed:...

What is the code definition of a loft for a Tiny House?

Monday, June 7, 2021
What is the code definition of a loft for a Tiny House?

A Tiny House loft is “a floor level located more than 30 inches above the main floor, open to the main floor on one or more sides with a ceiling height of less than 6 feet 8 inches and used as a living or sleeping space,” according to the 2018 edition...

What is the code definition of a Tiny House?

Monday, June 7, 2021
What is the code definition of a Tiny House?

A Tiny House is “a dwelling that is 400 square feet or less in floor area excluding lofts,” according to the 2018 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC AQ102.1) and the residential edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC).
• • •...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Electrical Panels

Monday, June 7, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Electrical Panels

Electrical panels are still called “fuse boxes” by many homeowners, although the fuses have long-ago been replaced by circuit breakers, and new technology like AFCI and GFCI added to many breakers. Here’s some of the questions we get asked most-often...

What are the code requirements for an electrical panel cover and door?

Friday, June 4, 2021
What are the code requirements for an electrical panel cover and door?

All electrical panels require a cover, called a dead front, to prevent touching any of the electrified (“live”) parts inside. The panel’s circuit breaker switches should stick through openings in the dead front, with all other openings closed. The perforated...

How far away does a receptacle outlet have to be from a plug-and-play spa/hot tub per code?

Monday, May 31, 2021
How far away does a receptacle outlet have to be from a plug-and-play spa/hot tub per code?

The minimum distance between any receptacle and a plug-in 120-volt hot tub is 6 feet, including from the receptacle connected to it, per National Electrical Code (NEC 680.34). The required distance is measured from the inside wall of the spa tub and...

What types of documentation/proof are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

Thursday, May 27, 2021
What types of documentation/proof are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

Each of the seven categories for insurance premium discounts in the Florida wind mitigation form have different standards for what is acceptable to prove the level of hurricane resistance of the home. Select a category below for a link to specific requirements:••...

What types of documentation/proof of year built of home are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
What types of documentation/proof of year built of home are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

The following types of documentation are acceptable for the roof-to-wall connection for the Florida wind mitigation form (Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form (OIR-B1-1802), according to Citizens Insurance:
•• Original construction permit.

What types of documentation/proof of opening protection are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
What types of documentation/proof of opening protection are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

The following types of documentation are acceptable for proving opening protection for the Florida wind mitigation form (Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form (OIR-B1-1802), according to Citizens Insurance: 
•• Notice of Acceptance or...

What types of documentation/proof of secondary water resistance (SWR) are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
What types of documentation/proof of secondary water resistance (SWR) are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

The following types of documentation are acceptable for proving secondary water resistance (SWR) of a roof for the Florida wind mitigation form (Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form (OIR-B1-1802), according to Citizens Insurance:
••...

What types of documentation/proof of roof geometry (shape) are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
What types of documentation/proof of roof geometry (shape) are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

The following types of documentation are acceptable for showing roof geometry (shape) for the Florida wind mitigation form (Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form (OIR-B1-1802), according to Citizens Insurance: 
•• Clear photo of each...

What types of documentation/proof of roof-to-wall connection are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
What types of documentation/proof of roof-to-wall connection are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

The following type of documentation is acceptable for the roof-to-wall connection for the Florida wind mitigation form (Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form (OIR-B1-1802), according to Citizens Insurance: 
•• Clear photos - Should show...

What types of documentation/proof of roof-deck attachment are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
What types of documentation/proof of roof-deck attachment are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

The following types of documentation are acceptable for proving the roof-deck attachment, where it is visible in the attic at the underside of the roof, for the Florida wind mitigation form (Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form (OIR-B1-1802),...

What types of documentation/proof of roof covering age are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
What types of documentation/proof of roof covering age are acceptable for the Florida wind mitigation form (OIRC-B1-1802)?

The following types of documentation are acceptable for proving the age of a roof for the Florida wind mitigation form (Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form (OIR-B1-1802), according to Citizens Insurance: 
•• Roof permit information...

What is Secondary Water Resistance (SWR) for the Florida wind mitigation inspection form?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
What is Secondary Water Resistance (SWR) for the Florida wind mitigation inspection form?

“Secondary Water Resistance (SWR)” is one of seven different ways to get a discount on Florida’s wind mitigation form for the windstorm portion of your homeowner’s insurance. To qualify for the SWR discount, you have to prove that a particular type...

Should I buy a house with a septic tank?

Monday, May 24, 2021
Should I buy a house with a septic tank?

Deciding whether or not to buy a house with a septic system is, at least partially, a lifestyle choice. Houses in more developed and urban areas are connected to a sewer, usually with minimal distance between you and the neighbors. As you move away...

Does code require a water shut-off valve at bathtubs?

Sunday, May 23, 2021
Does code require a water shut-off valve at bathtubs?

A shut-off valve is not required at the water supply pipes to a bathtub, according to the Residenital Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC P2903.9.3). We rarely see a shut-off valve at bathroom tubs,...

Does code require a water shut-off valve at showers?

Sunday, May 23, 2021
Does code require a water shut-off valve at showers?

A shut-off valve is not required at the water supply pipes to a shower, according to the Residenital Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC P2903.9.3). We rarely see a shut-off valve at bathroom showers,...

Does code require a water shut-off valve at sinks?

Sunday, May 23, 2021
Does code require a water shut-off valve at sinks?

A shut-off valve is required at each supply pipe to every sink in a home, according to the Residenital Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC P2903.9.3).
    The code further says that “fixture valves,...

Does code require a water shut-off valve at toilets?

Sunday, May 23, 2021
Does code require a water shut-off valve at toilets?

A shut-off valve is required at the supply pipe to every toilet in a home, according to the Residenital Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC P2903.9.3).
    The code further says that “fixture valves,...

What is a keyless light fixture or lampholder?

Sunday, May 16, 2021
What is a keyless light fixture or lampholder?

A keyless light fixture or lampholder does not have an on/off switch built into it—like a pull chain, toggle switch, or push-rod at the socket—and requires a remote switch on the wall or cord. “Keyless” is a holdover from an earlier era of gas lighting,...

What is a CTL breaker?

Thursday, May 13, 2021
What is a CTL breaker?

CTL is an acronym that stands for Circuit Total Limitation, a safety feature of modern electrical panels and breakers. It is primarily for control of where a type of breaker that combines two breakers into one and fits in a single panel slot—called...

Why is a leaning electrical service mast dangerous?

Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Why is a leaning electrical service mast dangerous?

When the structural integrity of a service mast begins to fail and it leans further and further over—pulled by the weight of the service cables, with the mast as a lever—it can eventually rip the meter lugs from the insulator mounts and leave them dangling....

What are the busbars at electrical panels made of?

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
What are the busbars at electrical panels made of?

Busbars for residential electrical panels are made of either aluminum or copper. They can also be brass, although we have never seen a home panel that utilized brass. Copper has higher conductivity than aluminum and a lower coefficient of thermal expansion,...

What is the difference between a full home inspection and a four-point insurance inspection?

Saturday, May 8, 2021
What is the difference between a full home inspection and a four-point insurance inspection?

The easiest way to explain the difference between a home inspection and a four-point is that one is for you and the other is for the insurance company. A full inspection gives the homebuyer a thorough assessment of the condition of a home, along with...

Is there more radon near the floor or ceiling of a house?

Saturday, May 8, 2021

"Radon gas is approximately 7.5 times heavier than air,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). So it will naturally collect near the lowest level of a home if the air remains undisturbed. But most homes have a forced air heating and...

How close can an electrical panel be to a furnace?

Saturday, May 8, 2021
How close can an electrical panel be to a furnace?

The National Electrical Code (NEC) has the same requirement for a service area in front of both the furnace and electrical panel: a clear, unobstructed area in front of the service face that is 30” wide by 36” deep by 78” high. The two service areas...

What are the requirements for a mobile/manufactured home stairs?

Saturday, May 8, 2021
What are the requirements for a mobile/manufactured home stairs?

HUD requires stairs at each exit door from a mobile home, including sliding glass doors. But the minimum code requirements for the construction details of the stairs fall under the jurisdiction of the local building department. 
Minimum Specs For...

Can an air conditioning condensate drain pipe connect to a sink drain?

Friday, May 7, 2021
Can an air conditioning condensate drain pipe connect to a sink drain?

Terminating the condensate piping from an a/c system to the house drain piping under a sink is definitley allowed, but rarely done here in Florida. It is important to remember that the connection must be made before (above) the trap. If it is made on...

Can I get wind mitigation inspection discounts on my commercial building insurance in Florida?

Friday, May 7, 2021

The Florida wind mitigation program only provides insurance discounts for the hurricane-resistant features of a residential building—which can be anything from single-family home to a high-rise condo—but not a commercial use. So, for example, a home...

What is a roof-over?

Tuesday, May 4, 2021
What is a roof-over?

A “roof-over” is when an existing roof remains in place and a new roof is applied on top of it. This is also called a “roof recover." Although it is usually done with an asphalt shingle roof, the new roof can be any roofing material. To learn more,...

What is a roof recover?

Tuesday, May 4, 2021
What is a roof recover?

A “roof recover” is when an existing roof remains in place and a new roof is applied on top of it. This is also called a “roof-over." Although it is usually done with an asphalt shingle roof, the new roof can be any roofing material. To learn more,...

How do I determine the age of a SioGreen water heater from the serial number?

Monday, May 3, 2021
How do I determine the age of a SioGreen water heater from the serial number?

Most brands of water heaters have the year of manufacture encoded in the serial number, but SioGreen does not. You have to call their tech support line at (888) 270-8452 with the serial number, and they will provide a manufacture date.
• • • •...

How does InterNACHI's We'll Buy Back Your Home Guarantee work?

Friday, April 30, 2021
How does InterNACHI's We'll Buy Back Your Home Guarantee work?

Many home inspectors that are members of InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors) include a home buy-back guarantee with their inspections. “If we miss anything we’ll buy your home back” and "at full purchase price."
...

What is that new termite in Florida that also eats live trees?

Monday, April 26, 2021
What is that new termite in Florida that also eats live trees?

It’s been tagged as the “Asian termite” because they originated in Southeast Asia, but a proper taxonomic designation is "Captotermes gestroi." This new pest in Florida poses a double threat: they consume the wood structure of buildings just like other...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Florida wind mitigation inspection

Sunday, April 25, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Florida wind mitigation inspection

A wind mitigation inspection can save you hundreds of dollars on your homeowners windstorm insurance premium—or not, depending on how many hurricane-resistant construction features are built into your home. Here’s links to a collection of answers to...

I replaced a dead GFCI and the new one doesn’t work. What’s wrong?

Saturday, April 24, 2021
I replaced a dead GFCI and the new one doesn’t work. What’s wrong?

A GFCI-receptacle right out of the box is tripped, and will not reset and function until it is wired correctly and the power turned back on. The reset button won't work and the receptacle remains dead, even though the wiring to it is live.
   You...

How do I tell the age of a Eccotemp tankless water heater from the serial number?

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
How do I tell the age of a Eccotemp tankless water heater from the serial number?

The first two numbers of the serial number are the year of manufacture for an Eccotemp water heat. The 3rd number is the month for January thru September. The 3rd and 4th numbers are the month for October thru December. So the serial number ECC20290387...

What is granular loss on a shingle roof?

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
What is granular loss on a shingle roof?

The tiny bits of ground rock granules that cover the surface of an asphalt shingle roof add color and texture to a roof. But, more importantly, they protect the shingle material below from deterioration caused by the sun’s UV-rays. And, as the granules...

How can I tell the age of a Thermalux tankless water heater from the serial number?

Monday, April 19, 2021
How can I tell the age of a Thermalux tankless water heater from the serial number?

The Thermalux serial number is 12 digits, and the first four digits are the year of manufacture, followed by a period. The next 2 digits are the month, followed by a dash and the last 6 digits. So the serial number 2020.10-043012 means the unit was...

How can I tell the age of a Paloma tankless water heater from the serial number?

Sunday, April 18, 2021
How can I tell the age of a Paloma tankless water heater from the serial number?

The third and fourth numbers of the serial number on the data plate, after several letters, are the year of manufacture for a Paloma tankless water heater. So the example shown above was manufactured in 2007. To determine the age of another manufacturer/brand...

What would cause a roof to fail the wind mitigation inspection?

Thursday, April 15, 2021
What would cause a roof to fail the wind mitigation inspection?

When we pull up at a house to do a wind mitigation inspection, the homeowner often greets us with “So you’re here to do the roof inspection, right?” But, actually, an inspection of the condition of the roof is not part of a wind mitigation report and...

How can I get a better wind mitigation report and reduce the cost of my windstorm insurance in Florida?

Wednesday, April 14, 2021
How can I get a better wind mitigation report and reduce the cost of my windstorm insurance in Florida?

Here’s a breakdown of the seven categories in the Florida Wind Mitigation Form (OIR-B1-1802, Rev. 01/12) and how to get, or improve, your discount in each one:
1) Building Code - This discount is given for homes that were built after the first...

How do I find the size in tons of a Bosch heat pump?

Wednesday, April 14, 2021
How do I find the size in tons of a Bosch heat pump?

You can determine the size in tons of your Bosch HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look at the first two numbers of the middle cluster of digits of the model number, which will...

How do I find the age of a Bosch heat pump from the serial number?

Wednesday, April 14, 2021
How do I find the age of a Bosch heat pump from the serial number?

Look at the second group of numbers in the serial number, and the first one of those three digits is the year of manufacture. The serial number shown below indicates the heat pump condenser was produced in 2017.

    To find out the age of...

What are typical copper service entrance wire/cable sizes for the electrical service to a house?

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Here’s a listing of the standard copper service entrance wire sizes for residential 3-wire single-phase service. Wire sizes are AWG (American Wire Gauge), and adjustments may be necessary due to temperature rating or length of wire run. An often-used...

Why is my pool ladder rusting?

Sunday, April 4, 2021
Why is my pool ladder rusting?

A stainless steel pool ladder with premature rust or pitting is usually caused by either low or high salt at a salt water pool, or low ph at a chlorine pool. The example shown in the photos above and below was at a pool at a vacant house with the red...

How can I determine the age of Gree heat pump from the serial number?

Saturday, April 3, 2021
How can I determine the age of Gree heat pump from the serial number?

The third and fourth digits of the serial number are the year of manufacture of a Gree heat pump. This condenser was manufactured in 2018. Gree also lists the date of manufacture in a year/month format on the data plate.

    To find out the...

Should I buy a house with popcorn ceilings?

Saturday, April 3, 2021
Should I buy a house with popcorn ceilings?

There are two reasons to be concerned about buying a house with popcorn ceilings. The first is the well-known safety issue of possible asbestos contamination of the vermiculite granules, and the other is the possibly that it will reduce the perceived...

How can I find the size in tons of a Franklin heat pump or air conditioner?

Thursday, April 1, 2021
How can I find the size in tons of a Franklin heat pump or air conditioner?

You can determine the size in tons of your Franklin HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look towards the end of the model number for a two-digit number divisible by 6 or 12; and...

How do I tell the age of a Franklin heat pump or air conditioner?

Sunday, March 28, 2021
How do I tell the age of a Franklin heat pump or air conditioner?

Franklin is a brand of inverter-type HVAC system manufactured by Goodman and uses their serial number encoding system. The first two numbers of the serial number are the year of manufacture. So the data plate shown below indicates the unit was manufactured...

Does tenting (fumigation) kill subterranean termites?

Sunday, March 28, 2021
Does tenting (fumigation) kill subterranean termites?

We inspected a rural 1938-vintage house last week that won the trifecta for wood-destroying pests. It was infested with drywood termites, subterranean termites, and wood destroying beetles. Tenting kills anything above ground, so it eliminates the drywood...

How do I determine the age of a GE electrical panel?

Sunday, March 28, 2021
How do I determine the age of a GE electrical panel?

GE load centers have an eight-digit serial number of two letters followed by six numbers, and the second letter indicates the year of manufacture, based on a repeating 12-year cycle. The serial number is usually located on a small sticker on, or near,...

How do I determine the age of a Siemens electrical panel?

Saturday, March 27, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Siemens electrical panel?

Most Siemens load centers have the date of manufacture stamped in ink on the back of the panel box near the bottom as shown above. In some panels, the date may be emboosed in the metal instead of stamped in ink. The date may be partially concealed by...

How do I determine the age of an electrical panel?

Saturday, March 27, 2021
How do I determine the age of an electrical panel?

There is often a serial number code or date code on a data sticker inside the panel door or panel box interior of the load center. Sometimes it’s just stamped on the box itself. Each manufacturer has their own code and some of them, like Square D, have...

How do I determine the age of an I-T-E electrical panel?

Saturday, March 27, 2021
How do I determine the age of an I-T-E electrical panel?

To find the age of an ITE load center (electrical panel), look for a 5-digit date code of a single letter followed by four numbers. The last two digits are the year of manufacture, and the 1st digit is the month, encoded as: A = January, B = February,...

How do I determine the age of a Cutler-Hammer electrical panel?

Saturday, March 27, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Cutler-Hammer electrical panel?

Cutler-Hammer load centers use a five-digit date code that’s at the bottom of the data sticker inside the box at the side. First digit identifies which plant manufactured it, second digit is the year, third and fourth digits are the week, and last digit...

How do I determine the age of an Eaton electrical panel?

Saturday, March 27, 2021
How do I determine the age of an Eaton electrical panel?

Eaton load centers uses a five-digit date code that’s at the bottom of the data sticker inside the box at the side. First digit identifies which plant manufactured it, second digit is the year, third and fourth digits are the week, and last digit is...

What does over-fused mean?

Friday, March 26, 2021
What does over-fused mean?

Over-fused means that the amperage rating of a fuse or breaker exceeds the amperage rating of the wiring in the circuit, or exceeds the amperage rating by a manufacturer for an appliance on the circuit. The main purpose of a an overcurrent device is...

How can I tell the size in tons of a Champion air conditioner or heat pump?

Saturday, March 20, 2021
How can I tell the size in tons of a Champion air conditioner or heat pump?

You can determine the size in tons of your Champion HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look for the two numbers in the center of the model number. They should divisible by 6 or...

How can I tell the age of a Champion air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace from the serial number?

Saturday, March 20, 2021
How can I tell the age of a Champion air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace from the serial number?

Champion is manufactured by the Unitary Products division of Johnson Controls. The second and fourth digits of the serial number, taken together are the year of manufacture. So the data plate shown below indicates the unit was manufactured in 2017.

What is the minimum warranty for a mobile/manufactured home installation in Florida?

Tuesday, March 16, 2021
What is the minimum warranty for a mobile/manufactured home installation in Florida?

According to the State of Florida’s Rule 15C-2.0073(6), "Each installer who installs a mobile/manufactured home shall warrant the installation and weather sealing, including sealing the bottom board of the home to prevent air infiltration of the home...

Where did all the time go?

Monday, March 15, 2021
Where did all the time go?

This is blog post number 2536 and today is an anniversary. Ten years ago we wrote number 1. Our platform at the time was ActiveRain.com, and later we switched to making it a part of our company website. But when the article count passed a thousand and...

Can a clothes dryer vent in a mobile/manufactured home terminate in the crawl space?

Monday, March 15, 2021
Can a clothes dryer vent in a mobile/manufactured home terminate in the crawl space?

No. The HUD-code specifically bans dryer duct terminations in the crawl space under a mobile home: “Dryer vents and combustion air inlets must pass through the skirting to the outside,” per [24 CFR 3285.505(f)]. The diagram above shows the details of...

Are open risers alright at outside steps and stairs?

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Are open risers alright at outside steps and stairs?

Open risers are acceptable on short stair runs where it is 30-inches or less to the ground. So the open risers on the stairs to the low deck shown above are acceptable. But when stairs go higher, like in the photo below, the International Residential...

What is a feeder conductor?

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Feeder conductors connect the load side of the service panel, or other downstream panel, to the final overcurrent protection device (breaker) for a branch circuit. So, for example, the cables connecting a service panel to a subpanel are feeder conductors....

What is a service conductor?

Friday, March 5, 2021

The conductors that run from the service connection point with the electric utility to the service disconnect (main breaker) in the service panel are the service conductors. Service conductors are sometimes confused with feeders. Feeder conductors connect...

How do I find out if a manufactured/mobile home has been moved from its original location?

Thursday, March 4, 2021
How do I find out if a manufactured/mobile home has been moved from its original location?

The reason it's important to know for sure that a mobile home you are buying has not been moved since delivery when new is that FHA, VA, USDA, and other conventional financing providers will not lend for a home that has been moved from its original...

Can I put a mobile home in my backyard in Florida?

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Can I put a mobile home in my backyard in Florida?

It depends on the zoning of the property, and you need to check with your city or county building/zoning department first. Most residential lots are zoned for only one residence and do not allow mobile homes. So your property zoning must allow both...

How can I tell if a mobile/manufactured home will pass a foundation certification inspection?

Monday, March 1, 2021
How can I tell if a mobile/manufactured home will pass a foundation certification inspection?

The HUD-code, to which mobile/manufactured home installations must conform, is unusual in two aspects: 1) it is the only nationwide building code in the U.S. and, 2) it is a “performance” based code. Most building codes are “prescriptive,” which means...

FOUNDATION CERTIFICATIONS

Monday, March 1, 2021
FOUNDATION CERTIFICATIONS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about mobile home FOUNDATION CERTIFICATIONS:
• What is a foundation certification inspection for a mobile/manufactured home?
• How can I tell if a mobile/manufactured home will pass a foundation...

What is a foundation certification inspection for a mobile/manufactured home?

Monday, March 1, 2021
What is a foundation certification inspection for a mobile/manufactured home?

If you need an FHA, VA, or conventional loan for a mobile/manufactured home, the foundation system must meet the standards published in the Permanent Foundations Guide for Manufactured Housing (HUD-4930.3G), dated September, 1996. And a "HUD Foundation...

Can you coat a TPO roof to extend its life?

Thursday, February 25, 2021
Can you coat a TPO roof to extend its life?

Yes, there are multiple brands of coatings, primarily elastomeric or acrylic, that will extend the life of a TPO (ThermoPlastic Olefin) roof. Here's a few considerations to review before you proceed:• The roof should be old enough to have lost its shiny...

How do I determine the age of a Hayward pool heater from the serial number?

Tuesday, February 23, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Hayward pool heater from the serial number?

The 5th and 6th digits of the serial number of a Hayward heat pump pool heater are the year of manufacture, and the next two are the month. So the example shown below was produced in August, 2017. This serial number system has been in effect since May,...

Which are the male and female flanges of a metal roof panel?

Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Which are the male and female flanges of a metal roof panel?

The male side of a fastener-type metal roof panel, such as a 5V or PBR profile, looks the same as the female side—except that it has a short and flat extension at the end. The male flange fits into the female flange and sits under it. The male flange...

Does a new construction house give false high radon readings?

Sunday, February 21, 2021
Does a new construction house give false high radon readings?

The new house smell that hits you when you walk in the door is caused by the off-gassing of VOC's (Volatile Organic Chemicals) in new paint, carpet, cabinets and other building materials. But radon is not being released from them. It comes from the...

Is an inspector required to open an electrical panel cover (dead front) during a four point inspection?

Saturday, February 20, 2021
Is an inspector required to open an electrical panel cover (dead front) during a four point inspection?

Yes, an inspector is required to open an electrical panel dead front during a four point inspection. According to the published standards of Citizens Insurance of Florida, an inspector must provide photos of both the front of the panel, with the door...

When did the Florida code start requiring roof sheathing nails to be ring-shank instead of smooth?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
When did the Florida code start requiring roof sheathing nails to be ring-shank instead of smooth?

The 2004 edition of the Florida Building Code was the first to require roof sheathing nails to be 8d ring-shank type. Previously, 8d common (smooth) nails were acceptable. The 2004 code went into effect on October 1, 2005. 
    The code change...

When were staples banned for roof sheathing attachment in Florida?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
When were staples banned for roof sheathing attachment in Florida?

Staples for roof sheathing attachment were excluded in the first edition of the statewide Florida Building Code on its effective date of March 1, 2002. They just don’t have the resistance to uplift in a storm comparable that's to nails. 
    Hurricane...

How do I determine the age of a Titan tankless water heater?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Titan tankless water heater?

Look for a sticker at the bottom of the water heater that says “Date of Manufacture (DOM),” which will state it in a month/day/year format. If the sticker is missing you can call the manufacturer, Niagara Industries at (305) 876-9010, with the serial...

How long does a home thermostat last?

Monday, February 15, 2021
How long does a home thermostat last?

You can expect a residential thermostat to last 10 to 25 years, with an average of 15 years. Here’s a few signs that it’s time to replace your thermostat:1) Actual room temperature and thermostat don’t match.2) Display image garbled on digital thermostat.3)...

How do I find the age of an American water heater from the serial number?

Saturday, February 13, 2021
How do I find the age of an American water heater from the serial number?

The first two numbers of the serial number are the year of manufacture for water heaters made by American Water Heater Company. So the data plate shown below indicates 2004. 

    American manufactures several different brands of its own,...

What is the average life expectancy of house a/c and heating ducts?

Saturday, February 13, 2021
What is the average life expectancy of house a/c and heating ducts?

You can expect residential ducts to last 25 to 70 years, with an average of 45 years. The big spread is due to the variables of materials, workmanship, and maintenance. Flexible ducts, for example, will have a shorter life than hard ducts. They also...

Do Park Model homes require two exit/egress doors?

Thursday, February 11, 2021

It depends on whether you are talking about a home built to ANSI standards or to HUD standards. ANSI Park Models are manufactured to comply with the American National Standards Institute’s ANSI A119.5 standard, and need only one exit door. They are...

Is an attached garage required to have a door to the house or exterior?

Sunday, February 7, 2021
Is an attached garage required to have a door to the house or exterior?

A garage is not considered a living space by the International Residential Code (IRC), so it’s not required to be connected to the house—although a door to the house is both convenient and typical. A person door to the exterior from the garage is also...

How do I determine the age of a Tempra tankless water heater from the serial number?

Sunday, February 7, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Tempra tankless water heater from the serial number?

Tempra tankless water heaters are manufactured by Stiebel Eltron and follow the same serial number format for determining their age as the company's tank-type water heaters. Look at the middle cluster of four digits in the serial number. Add 25 to the...

Can you use an electrical panel as a feed-through raceway for wiring that is not connected to it?

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Yes, wiring can pass through a panel without needing to have any electrical connections to it, according to the National Electrical Code (NEC-312.8). But the additional wiring cannot make the box become overpacked [NEC-312.8(A)(1,2)], and a warning...

Is a borate treatment effective for termite prevention?

Monday, February 1, 2021

Liquid borate treatments are used by some builders in our area for creating the ground-level termite barrier required by the State of Florida for new houses. It’s sprayed over the first three feet of wood up from the floor slab and the solution usually...

How do I look for yard drainage problems when buying a house?

Sunday, January 31, 2021
How do I look for yard drainage problems when buying a house?

You might get lucky and visit a house during the rainy season or after a thunderstorm and find areas of standing water and soggy soil—like in the photo above. This makes it easier to figure out some, but not necessarily all, of the site drainage problems...

Is there a time limit for installation of tie-downs for a mobile/manufactured home in Florida?

Thursday, January 28, 2021
Is there a time limit for installation of tie-downs for a mobile/manufactured home in Florida?

Florida requires that tie-downs be installed to the state’s standards for a mobile home that is used as a dwelling no later than 14 days after set-up, per Florida Code 320.8325(6). Park Model trailer/RV homes have a longer grace period. They must have...

Is there a time limit for installation of tie-downs for a Park Model trailer/RV in Florida?

Thursday, January 28, 2021
Is there a time limit for installation of tie-downs for a Park Model trailer/RV in Florida?

Florida requires that  tie-downs be installed to the state’s standards for a Park Model trailer/RV that is used as a dwelling no later than 45 days after set-up, per Florida Code 320.8325(6). Mobile homes have a shorter grace period. They must have...

What is the breaker with a blue test button?

Tuesday, January 26, 2021
What is the breaker with a blue test button?

If the breaker looks like the example above, and it’s in a Square D panel, then it is an early AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter). These breakers are in panels from the early 2000’s. Unfortunately, this model had problems and was recalled by Square...

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...

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)...

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...

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...

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...

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)...

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...

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...

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 the late 1940s through 1970. We have heard that the breakers were manufactured up until the mid-1980s, but have never seen a Pushmatic panel...

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...

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)?

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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 Hayward Century pump 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...

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...

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,...

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...

Will a four point inspection lower my homeowners insurance premium?

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

“How much will I save on my homeowners insurance if I get a four-point inspection?” is a question we often get asked. But if an insurance company wants a four point inspection as a requirement for coverage, you will not get a discount for passing the...

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,...

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...

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...

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...

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.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •...

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...

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?

The answer to this questions lies in the difference between “hurrcane windows” and “impact windows.” New windows installed throughout Florida are required by code to stand up to the extreme wind pressure exerted on them during a hurricane, and are called...

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)....

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...

What are the signs of stucco wall leaks?

Thursday, December 17, 2020
What are the signs of stucco wall leaks?

Small cracks may look like they wouldn’t be a problem, but a 1/32-inch crack (less than the thickness of a dime) only three feet long exposes a wall to more water intrusion than a 1-inch round hole. By the time enough water gets behind a stucco wall...

Can PEX pipe be connected to a water heater?

Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Can PEX pipe be connected to a water heater?

There is no simple yes or no answer to this question. The Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC 604.13) states that “PEX tubing shall not be installed within the first 18 inches of piping connected to a water heater." But the UPC is not used in all jurisdictions....

Why is a leaning water heater a safety problem?

Sunday, December 13, 2020
Why is a leaning water heater a safety problem?

As a water heater begins to lean out-of-plumb, it tugs on the two pipes connected to it at the top, along with the flue connector if it is a gas water heater (like the one shown above). A full 40-gallon water heater weights a top-heavy 500 lbs. And...

What is the difference between old house character and a defect?

Friday, December 11, 2020
What is the difference between old house character and a defect?

A smiling young realtor in a starched white shirt and red bow tie met us at the door of an open house for a 1930’s Chert stone cottage a few years ago with this greeting: “Are you old house people? If you are, you’re gonna love this place!” Translated,...

Does a receptacle outlet that is not readily accessible still need GFCI protection?

Friday, December 11, 2020
Does a receptacle outlet that is not readily accessible still need GFCI protection?

A receptacle outlet that is not readily accessible is not exempt from the requirement for GFCI-protection if it is in an area listed by the National Electrical Code [NEC 210.8 (A thru E)] as requiring GFCI, such as on the ceiling of the garage for a...

What is the average life expectancy of a patio cover roof (insulated and non-insulated)?

Wednesday, December 9, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a patio cover roof (insulated and non-insulated)?

The life expectancy of a patio cover roof (insulated or non-insulated) is 20 to 30 years, with an average of 25 years. The roof life can be shortened or extended outside of this range due variables like severity of climate, quality of installation,...

What is the average life expectancy of a PVC roof?

Tuesday, December 8, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a PVC roof?

The life expectancy of a PVC (Poly-Vinyl-Chloride) roof is 20 to 30 years, with an average of 25 years. The roof life can be shortened or extended outside of this range due variables like severity of climate, quality of installation, number of roof...

Does a combination microwave and range hood need a separate dedicated circuit?

Sunday, December 6, 2020
Does a combination microwave and range hood need a separate dedicated circuit?

A combination microwave/hood cannot be connected to the either of the two required kitchen small appliance receptacle circuits because it is not a countertop (portable) appliance, per National Electrical Code [NEC 210.52(B)(2)]. It’s a fixed appliance....

What is causing the cracks in my wall?

Saturday, December 5, 2020
What is causing the cracks in my wall?

Think of it this way: a crack is your wall creating its own expansion joint. It happens due to what’s called “differential expansion.” Walls are affected by factors such as temperature changes, moisture intrusion, shifting of the loads on and around...

Can a home inspector work as a general contractor?

Saturday, December 5, 2020
Can a home inspector work as a general contractor?

A home inspector can work as a contractor as long as the inspector also has a separate contractor’s license. The home inspection license alone does not allow the inspector to act as a contractor.
    Also, there are specific limitations on an inspector...

Does a light switch have to be in the same room as lights?

Saturday, December 5, 2020
Does a light switch have to be in the same room as lights?

The National Electrical Code [NEC 210.70(A)(1)] states that “At least one switch-controlled lighting outlet shall be installed in every habitable room, kitchen, and bathroom.” Rooms other than kitchens and bathrooms are allowed to have a switched wall...

Where should a smoke detector be placed on a tray (coffered) ceiling?

Friday, December 4, 2020
Where should a smoke detector be placed on a tray (coffered) ceiling?

A smoke alarm should be placed on the highest part of a tray-shaped (coffered) ceiling, or on the sloped part within 12 inches of the highest point, according to the National Fire Protection Association [NFPA 72, 29.11.3.4(12), 2019 edition]. 
...

How close can a smoke detector be to a ceiling fan?

Friday, December 4, 2020
How close can a smoke detector be to a ceiling fan?

A smoke alarm should not be installed within three feet horizontally of the path of the tip of a ceiling (paddle) fan, according to the National Fire Protection Association [NFPA 72, 29.11.3.4(9), 2019 edition]. A ceiling fan can disturb the natural...

How close can a smoke detector be to an air conditioning/heating supply register (vent)?

Friday, December 4, 2020
How close can a smoke detector be to an air conditioning/heating supply register (vent)?

A smoke alarm should not be installed within three feet horizontally of a supply register, and outside the direct air flow from a register, according to the National Fire Protection Association [NFPA 72, 29.11.3.4(8), 2019 edition]. The forced-air flow...

How close can a smoke detector be to a bathroom door?

Friday, December 4, 2020
How close can a smoke detector be to a bathroom door?

A smoke alarm should not be installed within three feet horizontally of the door to a bathroom that contains a tub or shower, unless it is specifically rated for close proximity to such a location, according to the National Fire Protection Association...

Is it legal to bore holes through roof trusses to install wiring?

Thursday, December 3, 2020
Is it legal to bore holes through roof trusses to install wiring?

Although the code allows drill holes in roof joists and rafters, with a limit on size and location of the holes, trusses are a different animal. A truss cannot be drilled without authorization of a licensed professional engineer or the truss manufacturer....

Why didn't I get the hip roof discount on my wind mitigation inspection?

Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Why didn't I get the hip roof discount on my wind mitigation inspection?

The hip roof discount is one of the biggest offered on your wind mitigation inspection. A hip roof slopes inward on all sides, and it gives you as much as 60% off the windstorm portion of your homeowners insurance. But, when any part of your roof is...

Can the disconnect for an air handler be inside it?

Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Can the disconnect for an air handler be inside it?

The disconnect for an air handler can be inside it (as in photo above), on it, next to it, or within sight—but must be readily accessible wherever it is located. An example of “in sight” would be if there is a panel with the breaker for the air handler...

How do I determine the age of a Triangle Tube Smart, Ginius, or Comfort Indirect fired water heater from the serial number?

Wednesday, December 2, 2020
How do I determine the age of a Triangle Tube Smart, Ginius, or Comfort Indirect fired water heater from the serial number?

Although many manufacturers encode the date of manufacture in their serial number, Triangle Tube does not. The year of manufacture may be found on data plate of some units but, If not, you need to call their tech support line at (856) 228-8881, extension...

Can a radon test result be wrong?

Friday, November 27, 2020
Can a radon test result be wrong?

Yes, it is possible. There are several ways a radon test result could be inaccurate:
•• Cheating or improper test procedure - It’s easier to cheat for a test using a radon canister: cap it, take it outside, or open the windows for part of the test...

Can you run a power cord or extension cord through the wall?

Friday, November 27, 2020
Can you run a power cord or extension cord through the wall?

No, a power cord or extension cord is not allowed to be run through a wall or ceiling by code, even if it looks neat and professional like in the photo above. The National Electrical Code (NEC) does not allow a cord to be concealed in the wall, per...

Is it alright to strip the paint from Ocala block to expose the original bare-block surface?

Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Is it alright to strip the paint from Ocala block to expose the original bare-block surface?

We don’t recommend it for several reasons. First, any bare concrete block, Ocala block included, absorbs water from rain. This type of block is less absorbent than modern concrete block, but the process of chemical stripping or blasting away the multiple...

Can you use PEX as discharge pipe at water heater temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve?

Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Can you use PEX as discharge pipe at water heater temperature and pressure  relief (TPR) valve?

Yes. PEX (cross-linked-polyethylene) is rated for water distribution by the International Residenital Code (IRC) at Table P2906.5, and the code further states at P2804.6.1(13) that any rated pipe is acceptable for TPR discharge. Also, when PEX is used...

What are the code requirements for an attic catwalk/walkway?

Tuesday, November 24, 2020
What are the code requirements for an attic catwalk/walkway?

A walkway is not required in an attic unless there is an appliance installed in it, such as a water heater or air handler. You can read about all the code requirements for safe walkway access to an appliance in the attic at our blog post What are the...

How many hose bibbs (outdoor faucets) are required by code for a house?

Tuesday, November 24, 2020
How many hose bibbs (outdoor faucets) are required by code for a house?

The minimum that was once required in the International Residential Code (IRC-R306.5) was two hose bibbs, one in front and one on the side or back. That first appeared in the 2006 edition, but has since been removed, so there is no minimum we know of...

Can I use plywood between garage and living space of my house?

Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Can I use plywood between garage and living space of my house?

The code requires 1/2” drywall—or a material of comparable fire resistance—for a fire separation between an attached garage and the house. Plywood is too flammable to be acceptable. But drywall is only required on the common walls with the house, and...

Can the flexible ducts under a mobile home be on the ground?

Saturday, November 21, 2020
Can the flexible ducts under a mobile home be on the ground?

No, ducts should not be on the ground. The HUD installation requirements [24CFR-3285.606(e)] for manufactured/mobile homes states that the ducts must be installed to manufacturer’s instructions and “ducts must be suspended or supported above the ground...

Do mobile home exterior doors require a landing by code?

Friday, November 20, 2020
Do mobile home exterior doors require a landing by code?

Although HUD has jurisdiction over the construction of a manufactured/mobile home, the stairs installed at the homesite must meet the standards of the local building department. This usually means compliance with the International Residential Code (IRC),...

Can a receptacle outlet be installed horizontally face-up by code?

Friday, November 20, 2020
Can a receptacle outlet be installed horizontally face-up by code?

Yes, you can mount an ordinary wall-type receptacle outlet horizontally with the face up, with two exceptions:
1) Receptacles on a countertop or work surface must be specially rated for that use, per NEC 405.6(B), and are typically pop-up type....

What is an electric heat lock out on a heat pump?

Wednesday, November 18, 2020
What is an electric heat lock out on a heat pump?

You have probably noticed that on very cold days the AUX HEAT light goes on at your thermostat, or the words appear on the screen if your have a digital display. This means that the system has switched over from the heat pump compressor to an electric...

Does a wall oven require venting to the exterior?

Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Does a wall oven require venting to the exterior?

One of our home inspection customers recently asked “Did you check the vent for the wall oven?” While that sounds like a sensible request, ovens do not have a vent to the outside of the home like some range hoods do. They have only a small vent slot...

WATER INTRUSION

Tuesday, November 17, 2020
WATER INTRUSION

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about WATER INTRUSION:
• How does a home inspector find roof leaks? What about wet spots in the walls?
• What causes moisture meters to have false readings?
• Why does my concrete floor slab...

What causes moisture meters to have false readings?

Monday, November 16, 2020
What causes moisture meters to have false readings?

There are three types of moisture evaluation devices and each uses a different technology. Pin-type meters measure electrical condutivity. Contactless meters check density with radio waves, and infrared cameras show differences in temperature across...

When was a disconnect within sight of an air conditioner or heat pump first required?

Thursday, November 12, 2020
When was a disconnect within sight of an air conditioner or heat pump first required?

The National Electrical Code’s requirement that “disconnecting means shall be located within sight from, and readily accessible from the air-conditioning or refrigeration equipment” first entered the code in the 1975 edition (NEC 440.14). The 1978 NEC...

Is there a website online to lookup a mobile home VIN number or HUD tag number?

Thursday, November 12, 2020
Is there a website online to lookup a mobile home VIN number or HUD tag number?

This question often comes up when a mobile home is being sold and the VIN number or HUD tag has gone missing. Unfortunately, there is no free database that you can access online to get information about your manufactured home.
    But the data...

How old is a Wadsworth breaker panel?

Saturday, November 7, 2020
How old is a Wadsworth breaker panel?

The Wadsworth Electrical Manufacturing Company dates back to1918, and was most popular from the 1930s to 1950s. The company liquidated in 1990, but sales of their electrical equipment gradually deteriorated from the ‘70s onward, and we have not seen...

Where are electrical breaker panels not allowed by code?

Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Where are electrical breaker panels not allowed by code?

Electrical panels are not allowed in:
•• A location that does not provide a clear working area for access in front of the panel that is 30” wide by 36” deep by 78” high. (International Residential Code, IRC E3405.2). Working area does not have...

When are dimmer switches not allowed to be used?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020
When are dimmer switches not allowed to be used?

Dimmers are not allowed to control switched receptacles, according to the International Residential Code (IRC 4001.12). The code does not state this directly, but says “general-use dimmer switches shall be used only to control permanently installed...

How many tons is my NuTone heat pump or air conditioner?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020
How many tons is my NuTone heat pump or air conditioner?

You can determine the “nominal” condenser tonnage of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning filter, the exact cooling...

How can I tell the age of a NuTone heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020
How can I tell the age of a NuTone heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

The fourth and fifth digits of a NuTone serial number are the year of manufacture. So the data plate shown below indicates the condenser was manufactured in 2009. Nutone is produced by Nortek, formerly Nordyne.

But there is one exception:...

Does a sink drain trap have to be plumb?

Sunday, November 1, 2020
Does a sink drain trap have to be plumb?

"Traps shall be set level with respect to their water seals,” according to the International Residential Code (IRC P3201.3) and the Residential edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC). But the goofy angle of the trap shown above is only one of its...

Can I get a wind mitigation inspection for a modular home?

Thursday, October 29, 2020
Can I get a wind mitigation inspection for a modular home?

Modular homes are built in a factory, but to the same building codes and standards as a site-built house, so they are eligible to receive the identical discounts for hurricane-resistant construction details from a wind mitigation inspection (Form OIR-B1-1802)...

Can I get a wind mitigation inspection for a mobile home?

Thursday, October 29, 2020
Can I get a wind mitigation inspection for a mobile home?

The Florida state program that provides discounts on the windstorm portion of your homeowner’s insurance for the hurricane-resistant features of your home does not include mobile (manufactured) homes. However, modular homes are eligible to get wind...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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?

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...

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...

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?

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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.

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

How much can you notch a roof rafter for the seat and heel cuts at bearing?

Saturday, September 19, 2020
How much can you notch a roof rafter for the seat and heel cuts at bearing?

The two International Residential Code (IRC) standards that apply to cutting a birdsmouth in a roof rafter are:1) "Notches at the ends of the member shall not exceed one-fourth the depth of the member" (IRC R502.8.1). That would be a max of 1-3/8” for...

What is the longest length allowed for a stair handrail?

Wednesday, September 16, 2020
What is the longest length allowed for a stair handrail?

There is no maxium length specified in the code for a stair handrail, but the longest length for the stair run below the handrail is defined by the International Residential Code (IRC 311.7.3) and Florida Building Code (FBC) as a maximum of 147 inches...

What is a PBR metal roof?

Wednesday, September 16, 2020
What is a PBR metal roof?

PBR stands for Purlin Bearing Rib and, as the name implies, it is a sturdy metal profile designed for installation over purlins, with or without roof sheathing below it. The tall, trapezoid-shape ribs are typically 1-1/4" in height and this enables...

Does a home inspector test the air conditioning system?

Monday, September 14, 2020
Does a home inspector test the air conditioning system?

The Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations require an inspector to inspect the air conditioning system, but they limit how much its function should be evaluated. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors...

How can I tell the age of a Therm-a-flow water heater from the serial number?

Monday, September 14, 2020
How can I tell the age of a Therm-a-flow water heater from the serial number?

The first two digits of the serial number on the data plate are the year of manufacture of a Therm-a-flow water heater, which is manufactured by Mor-Flo. The example below was produced in 1983.

To determine the age of another manufacturer/brand...

What is an ECX driver bit?

Sunday, September 13, 2020
What is an ECX driver bit?

It is a screwdriver-type bit that fits the combination-type heads that are common on the screws securing the dead front of newer electrical panels, along with other smaller electrical components. Although the head will accept a slotted, Phillips, or...

Where do you connect the drain line from a reverse osmosis system under a kitchen sink?

Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Where do you connect the drain line from a reverse osmosis system under a kitchen sink?

Manufacturers specify that the reverse osmosis sytem drain line should be connected to the sink tailpiece BEFORE the trap, either on the side of a vertical tailpiece or the top of a horizontal tailpiece. It should NOT be installed after the trap. 

Why is there a purple test button on the circuit breaker?

Saturday, September 5, 2020
Why is there a purple test button on the circuit breaker?

If the breaker is made by Square D and has the “D inside a square” logo, then the purple test button indicates that it is a Dual Function (GFCI and CAFCI) breaker. A yellow test button means it’s a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) breaker, and...

Does a home inspector verify that structural components like joists, rafters, columns, beams, and foundation are the right size?

Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Does a home inspector verify that structural components like  joists, rafters, columns, beams, and foundation are the right size?

The Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations require the inspector to examine and report on the structural components of a home. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), for example, states that “the inspector shall...

Does a home inspector determine if an air conditioning system is big enough for the house?

Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Does a home inspector determine if an air conditioning system is big enough for the house?

The Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations state that the home inspector is not required to determine if an air conditioning system is adquate for the size of a house. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) says that...

Does a home inspector check insulated windows for brokens seals and lost gas?

Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Does a home inspector check insulated windows for brokens seals and lost gas?

The Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations differ on what is required when examining insulated windows. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) expects inspectors to call out any windows...

Does a home inspector test the temperature/pressure relief valve at the water heater?

Friday, August 28, 2020
Does a home inspector test the temperature/pressure relief valve at the water heater?

A home inspector is not required to test the TPR (Temperature-Pressure-Relief) valve, according to the Standard of Practice of both national home inspector groups, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and the American...

Does a home inspector check for safety glass?

Friday, August 28, 2020
Does a home inspector check for safety glass?

Home inspectors are not required to verify the presence of safety glass in a home by the Standard of Practice of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), which states that “the inspector is not required to inspect for...

Does a home inspector check for aluminum wiring?

Thursday, August 27, 2020
Does a home inspector check for aluminum wiring?

The Standard of Practice of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (interNACHI) states that “the inspector shall report as in need of correction the presence of solid conductor aluminum branch-circuit wiring, if readily visible.”...

Does a home inspector move furniture?

Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Does a home inspector move furniture?

The home inspector is not required to move furniture. A home inspection is primarily a visual examination of the property, done with minimal disturbance to the occupant's furnishings and belongings. Homeowners sometimes get very upset if an inspector...

What do home inspectors look for when inspecting gutters?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020
What do home inspectors look for when inspecting gutters?

A gutter system collects rain water from the edge of a roof and deposits it away from the house foundation. Sounds simple, but a number of things can go wrong. Inspectors look for problems caused by poor installation and deterioration or damage of the...

Does a house need gutters to pass inspection?

Monday, August 24, 2020
Does a house need gutters to pass inspection?

Gutters are not code mandated, with just a couple of exceptions. See our blog post Are rain gutters required by code? for more on that. They are, however, an excellent investment for keeping your home’s foundation and exterior in good condition.

Are rain gutters required by code?

Sunday, August 23, 2020
Are rain gutters required by code?

Gutters are not required by the International Residential Code (IRC) or the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC), with two exceptions:
1) If the roof overhang (eave) is less than 6 inches.

2) If the home has a footing...

Why do some receptacle outlets have a T-shaped hole?

Sunday, August 23, 2020
Why do some receptacle outlets have a T-shaped hole?

The T-shaped slot indicates that the 120-volt receptacle is rated for 20-amps. Regular wall receptacles with a pair of vertical slots are rated for only 15-amps, but the T-shape enables it to accept either a 15- or 20-amp plug. 
    This receptacle...

What’s the difference between a four-point and wind mitigation inspection?

Wednesday, August 19, 2020
What’s the difference between a four-point and wind mitigation inspection?

Big difference. A wind mitigation inspection evaluates the hurricane-resistant structural features of a home. The State of Florida requires insurers to give a discount on the windstorm portion of a homeowner’s insurance policy for each documented hurricane-resistant...

Can a water heater and air conditioner use the same drain?

Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Can a water heater and air conditioner use the same drain?

Combining the water heater and a/c drains is not allowed by the International Residential Code (IRC) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code [FBC P2804.6.1(4)]: "The discharge piping serving a pressure-relief valve, temperature-relief...

What can I do about an apartment with only two prong/slot receptacle outlets?

Tuesday, August 18, 2020
What can I do about an apartment with only two prong/slot receptacle outlets?

There is a solution, assuming you want to plug in a 3-prong cord, and do it safely, without replacing any old 2-slot receptacle outlets and improving your landlord’s property. You will need two components for each location: a “three-prong to two-prong...

Why did I get no discount for roof-to-wall-attachment in my Wind Mitigation report?

Thursday, August 13, 2020
Why did I get no discount for roof-to-wall-attachment in my Wind Mitigation report?

There are six ways that your home can be disqualified from getting a discount for roof-to-wall-attachment in your Wind Mitigation report for insurance:
 1) The roof structure is “toe nailed," which means that the connection is secured with only...

Do I get a discount for partial hurricane shutters in a Wind Mitigation inspection?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Do I get a discount for partial hurricane shutters in a Wind Mitigation inspection?

There is no discount given for partial opening protection in a Florida Wind Mitigation report. It’s all or nothing. If, for example, shutters protect all the windows and doors in a home—except that the garage door is not hurricane-rated—then no discount...

Do mirrors have to be safety tempered glass next to doors?

Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Do mirrors have to be safety tempered glass next to doors?

Mirrors that are mounted on a continuous backing support do not have to be safety tempered glass, even if located in areas defined as hazardous for glazing by the building code, such as near a door. This is because glazing is defined as the “process...

Is a four point inspection report transferable?

Monday, August 10, 2020
Is a four point inspection report transferable?

Yes, an existing four point inspection is transferable when a house changes ownership. The report “can be in the name of the current or previous owner," according to Citizens Insurance. Other Florida insurors we know of have the same policy.
...

What is the difference between readily acessible and accessible?

Saturday, August 8, 2020
What is the difference between readily acessible and accessible?

The simplest definitions of “readily accessible” and “accessible” that we’ve found are in the International Residential Code (IRC):
    Other sources define the two terms somewhat differently. Readily accessible can mean not requiring tools to...

How many NM-cables allowed in an NM-connector clamp?

Saturday, August 8, 2020
How many NM-cables allowed in an NM-connector clamp?

The National Electrical Code does not adress the issue of how many cables are allowed in a single connector. It only states that “where cable is used, each cable shall be secured to the cabinet…” [NEC 312.5(C)]. The number allowed is based on the UL-rating....

Can a plumbing vent terminate in the attic?

Thursday, August 6, 2020
Can a plumbing vent terminate in the attic?

Yes, a plumbing vent can terminate in the attic. But it must have an air admittance valve at the termination to keep noxious sewer gas fumes from rising into the attic. An air admittance valve lets air into the plumbing vent pipe when needed to allow...

Does a French door have safety tempered glass?

Thursday, August 6, 2020
Does a French door have safety tempered glass?

Any glazing in doors has been required by the major building codes to be safety glass since that late 1960s, and by the Consumer Products Safety Council since the late 1970s. So only very old French doors will have regular glass that shatters into dangerous...

Do bathroom mirrors have to be safety tempered glass?

Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Do bathroom mirrors have to be safety tempered glass?

Mirrors that are mounted on a continuous backing support do not have to be safety tempered glass, even if located in areas defined as hazardous for glazing by the building code. This is because glazing is defined as the “process of installing an infill...

Are Wadsworth electrical panels dangerous?

Monday, August 3, 2020
Are Wadsworth electrical panels dangerous?

We know of no verified, documented problems with Wadsworth panels, except that they are old. The Wadsworth Electrical Manufacturing Company dates back to 1918 and was an early innovator, with numerous patents for electrical breakers and panel box designs....

What is code for air conditioning a garage?

Monday, July 27, 2020
What is code for air conditioning a garage?

Any heating/air conditioning ducts that serve the residence cannot also have registers (vents) in an attached garage. The registers would provide a direct route for a fire to move from garage to house. A separate HVAC system that serves only the garage...

What is code for the fire rating for a garage attic?

Monday, July 27, 2020
What is code for the fire rating for a garage attic?

Most attached garages have a ceiling secured to the bottom chord of the roof trusses or ceiling rafters, and the ceiling must minimum be 1/2” drywall or equivalent. Any attic access opening panels must also be 1/2” drywall or equivalent. These requirements...

What is code for the fire rating for a garage ceiling?

Monday, July 27, 2020
What is code for the fire rating for a garage ceiling?

Most attached garages have a ceiling secured to the bottom chord of the roof trusses or ceiling rafters, and the ceiling must minimum be 1/2” drywall or equivalent. If there is no ceiling and the roof structure is exposed in the garage, then the wall...

What is code for the fire rating for garage walls?

Monday, July 27, 2020
What is code for the fire rating for garage walls?

Any common walls between an attached garage and the house must have minimum 1/2” drywall or equivalent on the garage side of the wall. Only common walls (not perpendicular walls) must meet this requirement. If a garage is detached, but within 3-feet...

Can an electrical panel be in a bedroom?

Sunday, July 26, 2020
Can an electrical panel be in a bedroom?

Yes, a bedroom is an allowed location for an electrical panel. When the panel is placed in the bedroom, the electrician usually puts it in the area behind the door swing. The National Electrical Code (NEC) lists four prohibited panel locations at 240.42(C,D,E,F)....

What electrical panel locations are prohibited?

Sunday, July 26, 2020
What electrical panel locations are prohibited?

The National Electrical Code (NEC) lists the prohibited panel locations at 240.42(C,D,E,F). A panel cannot be located:
1) Where exposed to physical damage.2) In the vicinity of easily ignitable material. Clothes closets are specifically noted as...

Can a home inspector tell me if the wiring in a home is safe?

Sunday, July 26, 2020
Can a home inspector tell me if the wiring in a home is safe?

Not really, not 100%. Home inspectors have plenty of training to recognize visible defects in the wiring, but the majority of wiring in a home is concealed and cannot be fully evaluated. So an inspector can tell you about the condition of the areas...

Why are there no neutral pigtails at the AFCI and GFCI breakers in the panel?

Sunday, July 26, 2020
Why are there no neutral pigtails at the AFCI and GFCI breakers in the panel?

Where did the all the neutral pigtails go? If you can’t figure out if the wiring to the GFCI and AFCI breakers in the photo above is a problem or not, then you haven’t heard about the new “plug-on neutral” panels. They provide a concealed neutral bus...

What are code requirements for fireplace gas shutoff valve?

Saturday, July 25, 2020
What are code requirements for fireplace gas shutoff valve?

The requirements for a gas fireplace shutoff valve are at 409.5 in the International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC). A shutoff valve must:
1) Be located in the same room as the fireplace.2) Within 6 feet of the appliance.3) Cannot be concealed.3) Must be...

Are replacement electrical panels required to have AFCI breakers?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Are replacement electrical panels required to have AFCI breakers?

A replacement electrical panel is not required to upgrade to combination-type AFCI breakers if: 1) the panel does not include any new circuits, and 2) any extensions of the existing wiring to accommodate the new panel are not more than 6 feet [NEC 210.12(D)(Exception)].

What is the difference between an attached and detached garage?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020
What is the difference between an attached and detached garage?

The simple way to define an attached garage is that it shares a common wall with the living area of a house, but building officials usually consider that any structural attachment between garage and house—wall, roof, or beams—to mean the garage is attached....

Will a GFCI receptacle outlet trip if you overload the circuit?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Will a GFCI receptacle outlet trip if you overload the circuit?

No, a GFCI receptacle does not provide overcurrent protection for a circuit that is overloaded with too many appliance/lighting loads. But a GFCI breaker in the panel will trip when a circuit becomes overloaded, because it provides overcurrent protection...

How far away do plumbing pipes have to be from an electrical panel?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020
How far away do plumbing pipes have to be from an electrical panel?

The National Electrical Code (NEC) does not specifically address plumbing pipe clearance, but requires an area clear of any obstructions that is 2’-6” wide, 3’-0” deep, and 6’-6” high around the front of a panel  [NEC 110.26(A)]. 
    No plumbing...

How many tons is my air conditioner or heat pump?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020
How many tons is my air conditioner or heat pump?

It’s easy to find the tonnage once you get the hang of it. Hunt for a number that is divisible by 6 or 12 somewhere in the center of the model number on the data plate at the side of condenser (outdoor unit), like 12,18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, or 60. 

What causes excessive voltage drop at a wall receptacle outlet?

Monday, July 20, 2020
What causes excessive voltage drop at a wall receptacle outlet?

Higher than normal resistance to current flow in a circuit causes excessive voltage drop. Here’s a few possible culprits:
1) Wiring is smaller than code standard for the amperage rating and/or length of run of circuit.
2) Poor wire splices...

What is the lowest acceptable voltage for a wall receptacle outlet?

Monday, July 20, 2020
What is the lowest acceptable voltage for a wall receptacle outlet?

The National Electrical Code [NEC 210.19(A)(note 4)] specifies the maximum voltage drop at 5% for the farthest receptacle of a nominal 120-volt circuit, which means 114 volts is lowest allowed. Although not specified by the NEC, the accepted standard...

How do you analyze a wall crack from cause to effect?

Thursday, July 2, 2020
How do you analyze a wall crack from cause to effect?

Understanding what the different wall crack patterns mean can often point you directly to the underlying cause. Each type—inverted “V,” stairstep, vertical, etc—indicates a likely scenario. This way of evaluating a structural problem in a wall is essentially...

How long does a countertop last?

Thursday, July 2, 2020
How long does a countertop last?

You can expect a countertop to last between 10 to 60 years with reasonable care, depending on the material and level of use. Here’s our list, with links to articles with more info about each one, and a bar graph comparing lifespans.
Concrete -...

What is the average life expectancy of a cultured marble countertop?

Thursday, July 2, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a cultured marble countertop?

How long does a cultured marble countertop last?
You can expect a cultured marble countertop to last about 25 years with reasonable care. The material is a combination of ground stone, pigment, and resins. Cultured marble is a tough, durable material,...

What is the average life expectancy of a resin countertop?

Wednesday, July 1, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a resin countertop?

How long does a resin countertop last?
You can expect a resin countertop to last 10 to 20 years with reasonable care, and an average of 15 years. Creative colors and designs are possible with many choices of what is embedded in the resin, such...

What is the average life expectancy of a marble countertop?

Wednesday, July 1, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a marble countertop?

How long does a marble countertop last?
You can expect a marble countertop to last 50 years or more with reasonable care. Although marble can theoretically endure much longer, and has been rated by some for 100+ years, the accumulation of stains,...

What is the average life expectancy of a quartz (engineered stone) countertop?

Wednesday, July 1, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a quartz (engineered stone) countertop?

How long does a quartz (engineered stone) countertop last?
You can expect a quartz (engineered stone) countertop to last 20 to 60 years, depending of level and usage and care, with an average of 40 years. The material is a combination of ground...

What is the average life expectancy of a concrete countertop?

Tuesday, June 30, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a concrete countertop?

How long does a concrete countertop last?
You can expect a concrete countertop to last 50 years or more with reasonable care. Concrete can be rustic-industrial, or more decorative with addition of stone or glass aggregates at surface. However,...

What is the average life expectancy of a granite countertop?

Tuesday, June 30, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a granite countertop?

How long does a tile countertop last?
You can expect a granite countertop to last 60 years or more reasonable care. Although granite can theoretically endure much longer, and has been rated by some for 100+ years, the accumulation of stains, damage,...

What is the average life expectancy of a tile countertop?

Tuesday, June 30, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a tile countertop?

How long does a tile countertop last?
You can expect a tile coutertop to last 50 years or more with reasonable care. Porcelain tiles are more resitant to damage than ceramic. LIght color grout will show stains and dirt more than dark, and all grout...

What is the average life expectancy of a wood (butcher block) countertop?

Monday, June 29, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a wood (butcher block) countertop?

How long does a wood (butcher block) countertop last?
You can expect a wood (butcher block) countertop to last 60 years or more with normal care. Use of the countertop as a cutting surface will lower life expectancy to about 20 years or less. Regular...

What is the average life expectancy of a laminate countertop?

Monday, June 29, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a laminate countertop?

How long does a laminate countertop last?
You can expect a laminate countertop to last 15 to 40 years, with an average of 25 years. The variable levels of use and care are the reason for the wide lifespan range. Using the surface as a cutting board...

What is the average life expectancy of closet and pantry shelves?

Saturday, June 27, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of closet and pantry shelves?

How long does closet shelving last?
You can expect closet shelving to last 40 to 100 years or more, with an average of 70 years. Older type wood shelves on wall ledgers tend to hold up longer that the coated wire shelves with brace brackets or...

What is the average life expectancy of a bathroom medicine cabinet?

Saturday, June 27, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a bathroom medicine cabinet?

How long does a bathroom medicine cabinet last?
You can expect a bathroom medicine cabinet to last 30 years, and sometimes much longer. Like other cabinets in the bathroom, it is likely to be replaced while still functional, but dated and a little...

What is the average life expectancy of bathroom cabinets?

Saturday, June 27, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of bathroom cabinets?

How long do bathroom cabinets last?
You can expect bathroom cabinets to last 30 to 60 years, with and average of 50 years. The high humidity and splashed water in a bathroom can shorten the life of budget cabinets, and a plumbing leak under the...

What are the signs it's time to replace windows?

Friday, June 26, 2020
What are the signs it's time to replace windows?

Some signs that it’s time to consider replacing your windows are obvious, while others require taking a closer look. Here’s our list:
•• Windows difficult to open/close - Although this can also be a sign of structural settlement, it is usually...

What is the average life expectancy of a wood window?

Friday, June 26, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a wood window?

How long does a wood window last?
You can expect a wood window to last 20 to 45 years, with an average of 30 years. Wood windows are both classic and durable, but susceptible to rot if a paint finish or other sealer coating is not maintained. 

What is the average life expectancy of a fiberglass window?

Friday, June 26, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a fiberglass window?

How long does a fiberglass window last?
You can expect a fiberglass window to last 20 to 45 years, with an average of 35 years. Fiberglass is more expensive than vinyl but typically a longer lasting window.
    Here’s a bar graph that compares...

What is the average life expectancy of a vinyl window?

Thursday, June 25, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a vinyl window?

How long does a vinyl window last?
You can expect a vinyl window to last 20 to 40 years, with an average of 30 years. Vinyl is the most common window type for new construction, but can be prone to warping over time. Some manufacturers offer windows...

What is the average life expectancy of double-pane (insulated) window glass?

Thursday, June 25, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of double-pane (insulated) window glass?

How long does a double-pane insulated window last? 
You can expect double or triple-pane (insulated) window glass to last 10 to 20 years, and an average of about 15 years, until the seal around the glass panes leaks and the inert gas escapes. When...

What is the average life expectancy of an aluminum window?

Thursday, June 25, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of an aluminum window?

How long does an aluminum window last?
You can expect an aluminum window to last 15 to 30 years, with an average of 20 years. Although they are less expensive, aluminum windows are also less energy efficient than other windows because it is a poor...

How long does a door last?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020
How long does a door last?

You can expect a door to last from 25 to 100+ years, depending on the type of door, material, quality of manufacture, level of usage, and weather exposure. Click on any of the door types listed below to link to a page with more information.
ExteriorFiberglass,...

What is the average life expectancy of an interior solid core wood door?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of an interior solid core wood door?

How long does an interior solid core wood door last?
You can expect an interior solid core wood door to last 50 to 100+ years, with an average of 70 years. Here’s a bar graph comparing life expectancy of an interior solid core wood door to other...

What is the average life expectancy of an interior hollow core wood door?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of an interior hollow core wood door?

How long does an interior hollow core wood door last?
You can expect an interior hollow core wood door, both flush and panel, to last 25 to 50+ years, with an average of 40 years. Here’s a bar graph comparing the life expectancy of an interior...

What is the average life expectancy of an interior wood French door?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of an interior wood French door?

How long does an interior wood French door last?
You can expect an interior wood french door to last 40 to 70 years, with an average of 50 years. Here’s a bar graph comparing life expectancy of an interior wood french door to other doors in a house....

What is the average life expectancy of a closet door?

Monday, June 22, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a closet door?

How long does a closet door last?
You can expect a closet door to last 30 to 100+ years, with an average of 50 years. Heavy usage is the primary factor that shortens lifespan, especially for track-type folding closet doors.
    Here’s a bar...

What is the average life expectancy of a screen door?

Monday, June 22, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a screen door?

How long does a screen door last?
Screen doors are typically made of wood, aluminum or vinyl, and you can expect one to last 20 to 30 years, with an average of 25 years. The factors that shorten lifespan are heavy/rough usage and direct sun and...

What is the average life expectancy of a fiberglass exterior door?

Monday, June 22, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a fiberglass exterior door?

How long does a fiberglass exterior door last?
You can expect a fiberglass exterior door to last 50 to 100+ years, with an average of 70 years. Fiberglass does not rust or rot and is more dimensionally stable than other door materials. However,...

What is the life expectancy of a wood exterior door?

Sunday, June 21, 2020
What is the life expectancy of a wood exterior door?

How long does a wood exterior door last?
You can expect a wood exterior door to last 30 to 70+ years, with an average of 50 years. The are three factors that affect door longevity:
1) Weather exposure - A door under only a small roof overhang...

What is the average life expectancy of a steel exterior door?

Sunday, June 21, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a steel exterior door?

How long does a steel exterior door last?
You can expect a steel exterior door to last 30 to 80+ years, with an average of 50 years. The primary factor that affects lifespan is weather exposure. A door that is under little or no roof overhang will...

What is the average life expectancy of a garage door opener?

Saturday, June 20, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a garage door opener?

How long does a garage door opener last?
You can expect a garage door opener to last 10 to 15+ years, with an average of 12 years. Factors that affect lifespan are level of usage, along with maintenace and lubrication of track and springs. The...

What is the average life expectancy of a garage door?

Saturday, June 20, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a garage door?

How long does a garage door last?
You can expect a garage door to last 20 to 35 years, with an average of 30 years. Factors that affect lifespan are level of usage, maintenance and lubrication, and weather exposure. The opener has a shorter life:...

How long does house siding last?

Friday, June 19, 2020
How long does house siding last?

Here’s a list of average life expectancies for residential siding. Click on any of the sidings to get further info. As a rule, inorganic siding like brick or stucco is going to outlast organic sidings like wood or plywood. Vinyl and aluminum, although...

How many children drown each year in a pool or spa?

Friday, June 19, 2020
How many children drown each year in a pool or spa?

An average of 379 children younger than 15 years old drown in a pool or spa each year in America, according to recent Consumer Products Safety Council (CPSC) data. Children under 5 accounted for 75% of those deaths, and most drownings occurred in backyard...

What are the pool safety barrier requirements for Florida?

Friday, June 19, 2020
What are the pool safety barrier requirements for Florida?

The Residential Pool Safety Act, Chapter 515 of Florida Statutes, requires a safety barrier around any new residential pool more than 24 inches deep “in order to pass final inspection and receive a certificate of completion." There are five different...

How long do plumbing fixtures last?

Thursday, June 18, 2020
How long do plumbing fixtures last?

The life expectancy of a plumbing fixture varies according to the material used, quality of manufacture, level of usage, and hardness of water. Here’s our best estimates, and click on any fixture for more info. 
Bathtub - 10 to 50 years, average...

What is the average life expectancy of a bathtub?

Monday, June 15, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a bathtub?

How long does a bathtub last?
You can expect a bathtub to last from 10 to over 50 years, depending the material used, with an average of 25 years. Fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) is estimated at 10± years, enameled steel at 15± years, acrylic...

What is the average life expectancy of a sink?

Friday, June 12, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a sink?

How long does a sink last?
You can expect a sink to last from 15 to 100 years, depending on the material used, with an average of 30 years. Enameled steel sink will last 15± years, stainless steel 25±, porcelain 30±, acrylic 50±, and soapstone...

What is the average life expectancy of toilet tank components?

Friday, June 12, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of toilet tank components?

How long do toilet tank flush components last?
You can expect the flush components in a toilet tank to last 5 to 10 years, with an average of 7 years. Frequent usage, hard water, and toilet bowl cleaner tablets added to the tank (as shown above)...

What is the average life expectancy of a fiberglass tub/shower?

Thursday, June 11, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a fiberglass tub/shower?

How long does a fiberglass tub/shower last?
You can expect a fiberglass tub/shower to last 10 to 20 years, with an average of 15 years. Frequent usage will shorten lifespan, and abrasive cleaners cause the surface to deteriorate prematurely. The...

SINKS

Thursday, June 11, 2020
SINKS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about SINKS:
• Why is it a problem when a trap under a sink is installed backwards? 
• What causes a gurgling sound when a bathtub or sink drains? 
• Why is garbage disposal not allowed at...

What is the average life expectancy of a faucet?

Thursday, June 11, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a faucet?

How long does a faucet last?
You can expect a faucet to last 15 to 25 years, with an average of 20 years. Factors that affect lifespan include quality of manufacture, level of usage, and water hardness. Although a faucet typically gets replaced...

What is the average life expectancy of a toilet?

Wednesday, June 10, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a toilet?

How long does a toilet last?
You can expect a toilet to last at least 50 years and, unless cracked or leaking, it’s a sturdy fixture that can continue to be serviceable for much longer. Most older toilets are replaced while still functional to...

What is the average life expectancy of rain gutters?

Wednesday, June 10, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of rain gutters?

How long do rain gutters last?
The life expectancy of gutters depends on what they are made from:
•• Aluminum - 20 to 30 years, average 25 years•• Copper - 50+ years•• Vinyl - 10 to 25 years, average 15 years 
    Also see our blog posts...

What is the average life expectancy of skylights?

Wednesday, June 10, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of skylights?

How long do skylights last?
You can expect a skylight or solar tube to last 8 to 20 years, with an average of 14 years. Like any roof penetration, a skylight that is poorly installed will soon leak, and any roofer will tell you “it’s not if a skylight...

What is the average life expectancy of pipe boot flashings?

Tuesday, June 9, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of pipe boot flashings?

You can expect pipe boot flashings to last 15 to 30 years, with an average of 20 years. Pipe boots tend to have a shorter life than other types of roof flashings for two reasons: 1) the old-fashioned lead pipe boots can get gnawed away by squirrels...

What is the average life expectancy of roof flashings?

Tuesday, June 9, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of roof flashings?

How long do roof flashings last?
You can expect roof flashings to last 20 to 35 years, with an average of 25 years. A flashing is any material that is used as a transition between roofing and another surface or at a roof penetration, or at a change...

What is the average life expectancy of an elastomeric roof coating?

Monday, June 8, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of an elastomeric roof coating?

How long does an elastomeric roof coating last?
You can expect an elastomeric roof coating to last 5 to 20 years, with an average of 10 years. Although elastomeric coatings are often used to extend the life of mobile home and low-slope/flat residential...

What is the average life expectancy of concrete or steel exterior stairs or steps?

Monday, June 8, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of concrete or steel exterior stairs or steps?

How long do exterior concrete or steel stairs or steps last?
You can expect concrete or steel exterior stairs or steps to last 50 to 80 years, with an average of 65 years. Weather deteriorates the concrete surface, and spalling due to reinforcing...

What is the average life expectancy of interior stairs or steps?

Monday, June 8, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of interior stairs or steps?

How long do interior stairs or steps last?
You can expect interior stairs or steps to last the life of a home, 100 years or more. This includes manufactured and spiral metal stairs. Most stairs are wood and moisture intrusion or termites will shorten...

What is the average life expectancy of exterior wood stairs or steps?

Monday, June 8, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of exterior wood stairs or steps?

How long do exterior wood stairs or steps last?
You can expect exterior wood stairs and steps to last 15 to 35 years, with an average of 25 years. Wood rot is the enemy, so longer life is achieved by keeping a preservative coating on the wood and...

What is the average life expectancy of a pull-down attic ladder?

Sunday, June 7, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a pull-down attic ladder?

How long does an attic ladder last? 
You can expect a pull-down attic ladder to last 30 to 60 years, with an average of 40 years. Factors that will shorten the lifespan include heavy usage, excessive weight on steps, and homeowner modifications....

What is the average life expectancy of a gravel driveway or walkway?

Sunday, June 7, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a gravel driveway or walkway?

How long does a gravel driveway or walkway last?
You can expect a gravel driveway to last 4 to 10 years, and an average of 5 years, before requiring repair and refreshing of gravel. A gravel walkway will survive a little longer, 5 to 12 years and...

What is the average life expectancy of a home security system?

Saturday, June 6, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a home security system?

How long does a home security system last?
You can expect a home security system to last 12 to 20 years, with an average of 15 years. Although systems may remain functional at 20 years out, repair parts are often no longer available and upgrading...

What is the average life expectancy of a doorbell?

Saturday, June 6, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a doorbell?

How long does a doorbell last?
A basic low-tech doorbell that consists of a bell button, a transformer, wiring, and a bell mechanism can be expect to last about 40 years. The bell button can be damaged or deteriorate over time from weather exposure,...

What is the average life expectancy of a combination smoke and CO carbon monoxide detector?

Saturday, June 6, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a combination smoke and CO carbon monoxide detector?

How long does a combo smoke/CO alarm last?
The life expectancy of a combo smoke/CO alarm varies from 5 to 10 years, as rated by manufacturer, with newer models having a longer life. Fortunately, smoke/CO alarms manufactured after August 1, 2009,...

What is the average life expectancy of a CO carbon monoxide detector?

Saturday, June 6, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a CO carbon monoxide detector?

How long does a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm last?
The life expectancy of a CO alarm varies from 5 to 10 year, as rated by manufacturer, with newer models having a longer life. Fortunately, alarms manufactured after August 1, 2009, are required to...

What is the average life expectancy of house shutters?

Friday, June 5, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of house shutters?

How long do house shutters last?
The average life expectancy of residential shutters varies according to the type of shutter, quality of manufacture, location, and whether it is decorative or functional. Here’s our estimates:
•• Aluminum,...

What is the average life expectancy of interior caulking?

Friday, June 5, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of interior caulking?

How long does interior caulking last?
You can expect interior caulk to last 7 to 15 years, based on using acrylic latex or latex/silicone caulk with a coat of paint over it.  
    Like any average, the life of caulk if affecting by variables...

What is the average life expectancy of a built-up roof?

Friday, June 5, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a built-up roof?

How long does a built-up roof last?
You can expect a 4-ply built-up roof to last from 17 to 25 years, with an average of 20 years. Built-up roofs have between 3 and 5 layers of roofing paper, called “plies,” mopped with hot asphalt between each...

What is the average life expectancy of a water softener?

Wednesday, June 3, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a water softener?

How long does a water softener last?
You can expect a water softener to last 10 to 16 years, with an average of 12 years. Factors that affect lifespan are level of usage, maintenance, and the hardness of the water being processed. Also, see our...

What is the average life expectancy of a sewage grinder pump?

Wednesday, June 3, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a sewage grinder pump?

How long does a sewage grinder pump last?
You can expect a sewage grinder pump to last 6 to 16 years, with an average of 9 years. A grinder pump is installed along the drain line to a municipal sewer system or private septic tank when the pipe...

What is the average life expectancy of a well pressure tank?

Wednesday, June 3, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a well pressure tank?

How long does a well pressure tank last?
You can expect a well pressure tank to last 10 to 25 years, with an average of 15 years. The factors that will affect a tank’s longevity include: 
•• The tank material, with unlined steel tank having...

What is the average life expectancy of a paver patio?

Sunday, May 31, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a paver patio?

How long does a paver patio last?
You can expect a concrete or brick paver patio to last 25 to 45 years, with an average of 35 years. Proper installation is critical and begins with a well-compacted base. Maintenance is also important, such as...

What is the average life expectancy of a paver driveway?

Sunday, May 31, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a paver driveway?

How long does a paver driveway last?
You can expect a concrete or brick paver driveway to last 25 to 45 years, with an average of 35 years. Proper installation is critical and begins with a well-compacted base. Maintenance is also important, such...

How long should my HVAC system last?

Sunday, May 31, 2020
How long should my HVAC system last?

Heating and air conditioning systems last between 14 and 21 years on average. Smaller appliances, like window air conditioners and exhaust fans, have a shorter lifespan. Factors that shorten life expectancy include poor initial quality, inadequate maintenance,...

How long should my home appliances last?

Sunday, May 31, 2020
How long should my home appliances last?

How long do home appliances last?
The main factor that affects how long a home appliance lasts is how often it is used. A washing machine for a family of seven, for example, will not survive as long as one in the home of a senior couple. The quality...

What is the average life expectancy of a concrete patio?

Sunday, May 31, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a concrete patio?

How long does a concrete patio last?
You can expect a concrete patio to last about 30 to 50 years, with an average of 40 years, except that the freeze/thaw cycles and salt de-icers in colder climates are not kind to concrete and will shorten the...

What is the average life expectancy of an electric furnace?

Friday, May 29, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of an electric furnace?

How long does an electric furnace last?
You can expect an electric resistance furnace to last about 18 to 24 years, with an average of 21 years. We only see this type of furnace in our region in older mobile homes. Like any furnace, a long heating...

What is the average life expectancy of a compact refrigerator?

Friday, May 29, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a compact refrigerator?

How long does a compact refrigerator last?
You can expect a compact refrigerator to last 6 to 12 years, with an average of 8 years. Although more expensive models tend to last longer, most compact refrigerators are budget-priced and not intended...

What is the average life expectancy of an asphalt driveway?

Friday, May 29, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of an asphalt driveway?

How long does an asphalt driveway last? 
You can expect an asphalt driveway to last 12 to 20 years, with an average of 17 years. The flexibility of asphalt makes it preferable to concrete in northern climates to better withstand the winter freeze/thaw...

What is the average life expectancy of a freezer?

Friday, May 29, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a freezer?

How long does a freezer last?
You can expect a chest  or upright freezer to last 12 to 20 years, with an average of 16 years. Upright freezers tend to lean towards the lower end of the range, and chest freezers at the upper end. Either one will...

What is the average life expectancy of a sliding glass door?

Thursday, May 28, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a sliding glass door?

How long does a sliding glass door last?
You can expect a sliding glass door to last 20 to 30 years, with an average of 25 years. The door frames are manufactured from vinyl, fiberglass, aluminum, or composite—which is a combination of PVC and...

What are concrete shrinkage cracks?

Thursday, May 28, 2020
What are concrete shrinkage cracks?

The addition of water to a dry concrete mix activates a process called hydration, the chemical reaction in which water is absorbed to create a rock-like crystalline structure. It continues slowly for months after the inital set, and the concrete shrinks...

What is the average life expectancy of a concete walkway?

Thursday, May 28, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a concete walkway?

How long does a concrete walkway last?
You can expect a concrete walkway to last 25 to 50 years, with an average of 35 years, except that the freeze/thaw cycles and salt de-icers in colder climates are not kind to concrete and will shorten the...

What is the average life expectancy of a concrete driveway?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a concrete driveway?

How long does a concrete driveway last?
You can expect a concrete driveway to last 25 to 45 years, with an average of 35 years, except that the freeze/thaw cycles and salt de-icers in colder climates are not kind to concrete and will shorten the...

What size in tons is my Fujitsu heat pump or air conditioner?

Tuesday, May 26, 2020
What size in tons is my Fujitsu heat pump or air conditioner?

You can determine the “nominal” condenser tonnage of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning filter, the exact cooling...

What is the average life expectancy of a vinyl fence?

Monday, May 25, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a vinyl fence?

How long does a vinyl fence last?
You can expect a vinyl/PVC fence to last 20 to 35 years, with an average of 25 years. Vinyl is more expensive than wood, but also longer lasting and lower maintenance. It does not require repainting, only occasional...

What is the average life expectancy of mulch?

Monday, May 25, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of mulch?

How long does mulch last?
You can expect mulch to last 1 to 4 years, with an average of 2 years. Because the combination of moisture and heat accelerate decomposition, 2 years is about the max in Florida, but it may last up to 4 years in cooler,...

What is the average life expectancy of a chain link fence?

Monday, May 25, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a chain link fence?

How long does a chain link fence last?
You can expect a galvanized steel chain link fence to last 25 to 35 years, with an average of 30 years. Repair of any damage, such as at top rail, and gate hinges and latches, is necessary to extend the life...

What is the average life expectancy of a wood fence?

Monday, May 25, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a wood fence?

How long does a wood fence last?
You can expect wood fencing to last 15 to 25 years, with an average life of 20 years. Because wood is the only fence material that is organic and subject to rot, using a pressure-treated or naturally rot-resistant...

LIGHTING

Monday, May 25, 2020
LIGHTING

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about LIGHTING: 
• Which rooms in a house require switched lights per code?
• Why does the bedroom have a light switch but there is no light in the ceiling? 
• Why can't I put a chandelier...

What is the average life expectancy of an interior light fixture?

Sunday, May 24, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of an interior light fixture?

You can expect an interior light fixture to last 40 to 50 years, with an average of 45 years. A light fixture is referred to in the building codes as a “luminaire,” and can go bad due to corrosion, obsolescence, a short circuit that fries the wiring,...

What is the average life expectancy of an exterior light fixture?

Sunday, May 24, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of an exterior light fixture?

You can expect an exterior light fixture to last 25 to 45 years, with an average of 35 years. This applies only to fixtures that are rated by the by the manufacturer for exterior installation. A light fixture that is intended for interior use may look...

What is the difference between an on-frame and off-frame modular home?

Sunday, May 24, 2020
What is the difference between an on-frame and off-frame modular home?

Most modular homes are trucked to the homesite and hoisted by a crane in sections onto a standard stem-wall or pier foundation that was built before arrival of the home. They do not have a steel I-beam frame underneath, and are called “off-frame” modulars.

What size in tons if my Comfort Pack air conditioner or heat pump?

Sunday, May 24, 2020
What size in tons if my Comfort Pack air conditioner or heat pump?

You can determine the size in tons of your Comfort Pack HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). ook for two numbers at the middle or end of the model number that are divisible by 6 or...

How can I tell the age of a Comfort Pack air conditioner or heat pump from the serial number?

Sunday, May 24, 2020
How can I tell the age of a Comfort Pack air conditioner or heat pump from the serial number?

Comort Pack is manufactured by National Comfort Products. The second and third digits of the serial number are encoded to indicate the year of manufacture, based on the listing below:
32 = late 1998, 33 = 1999, 34 = 200035 = 2001, 36 = 2002, 43...

Can you plug a generator into a wall receptacle outlet?

Saturday, May 23, 2020
Can you plug a generator into a wall receptacle outlet?

You could call it “good ole Yankee ingenuity” or “white trash engineering,” depending on whether you approve or not. But, either way, it’s both dangerous and illegal. Here’s four reasons why:
1) It’s against code. The National Electrical Code [NEC...

How do you keep double-pane insulated windows from from getting cloudy?

Friday, May 22, 2020
How do you keep double-pane insulated windows from from getting cloudy?

The haze that obscures the glass in double-pane windows is caused by loss of the insulating gas sealed between the panes. This allows air to seep in, and then the humidity in the air to condense on the interior surface of the panes. Dust particles in...

What is the code minimum clearance in front of a toilet?

Friday, May 22, 2020
What is the code minimum clearance in front of a toilet?

The minimum clearance in front of a toilet is 21” according to the International Residential Code (IRC), although 24” or more is recommended. For other bathroom minimums, see our blog post What are the minimum clearances around a toilet? 
• • •...

How can I tell age of Bosch water heater from serial number?

Friday, May 22, 2020
How can I tell age of Bosch water heater from serial number?

The first two numbers in the serial number are encoded to give you the year of manufacture for water heaters manufactured before 2010. They may be at the beginning of the serial number or after a couple of letters. The first number is the year of manufacture,...

How can I tell age of Westinghouse water heater from serial number?

Friday, May 22, 2020
How can I tell age of Westinghouse water heater from serial number?

The 5th and 6th digits of the serial number are the year of manufacture of a Westinghouse water heater. First two digits are the month, and 3rd and 4th are the day. So 040220H0051721 indicates the water heater was manufactured on April 4 2020.
...

What size in tons is my Westinghouse heat pump or air conditioner?

Thursday, May 21, 2020
What size in tons is my Westinghouse heat pump or air conditioner?

You can determine the size in tons of your Westinghouse HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look at the last two numbers of the model number that are divisible by 6 or 12, which...

Is a termite shield required for new houses?

Thursday, May 21, 2020
Is a termite shield required for new houses?

One old-time requirement that is no longer in the building code is a termite shield. Before the modern slab-on-grade construction, when most homes had a raised wood floor on a stem wall or piers, a strip of sheet metal placed between the foundation...

Can I backfeed generator to house through dryer outlet plug?

Thursday, May 21, 2020
Can I backfeed generator to house through dryer outlet plug?

Backfeeding a house electrical panel from a portable generator through a dryer receptacle is both dangerous and illegal. Here’s three reasons why:
•• Potential fireworks. If the main breaker in the service panel is not turned off, or inadvertently...

What size in tons is my Magic-Pak heat pump or air conditioner?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
What size in tons is my Magic-Pak heat pump or air conditioner?

You can determine the size in tons of your Magic-Pak HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look at the last two numbers of the model number that are divisible by 6 or 12, which represents...

How can I tell the age of a Magic-Pak heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
How can I tell the age of a Magic-Pak heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Magic-Pak package units are designed specifically for multiple-unit buildings. The third and fourth digits in the serial number are the year of manufacture. So 841248427 was produced in 2012. 
    To find out the age of another brand of air conditioner...

What size in tons is my Day & Night heat pump or air conditioner?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
What size in tons is my Day & Night heat pump or air conditioner?

You can determine the size in tons of your Day & Night HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look at the 3-digit cluster of numbers in the middle of the model number that are divisible...

How can I tell the age of a Day & Night heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
How can I tell the age of a Day & Night heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

The second two digits of the serial number are the year of manufacture of a Day & Night heat pump or air conditioner. This unit was manufactured in 2002.
    For units from the late 1960s thru the late 1980s, there is a different serial number...

What size in tons is my Sanyo heat pump?

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
What size in tons is my Sanyo heat pump?

You can determine the size in tons of your Sanyo HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look at the first two numbers after several letters at the beginning of the model number. It...

What size in tons is my Samsung heat pump?

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
What size in tons is my Samsung heat pump?

You can determine the size in tons of your Samsung HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). ook at the first two numbers after several letters at the beginning of the model number. It...

How can I tell the age of a MrCool heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
How can I tell the age of a MrCool heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

The MrCool serial number is 21-digits, and the number at the 12th digit is the year of manufacture. Here’s and example: 3407657520193280120410. Because MrCool is a newer brand, a 9 would only mean 2019 for now; but it may need further investigation...

What size in tons is my National Comfort Products heat pump or air conditioner?

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
What size in tons is my National Comfort Products heat pump or air conditioner?

You can determine the size in tons of your National Comfort Products HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look for the second and third number in the middle cluster, between dash...

What size in tons is my LG heat pump air conditioner?

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
What size in tons is my LG heat pump air conditioner?

You can determine the size in tons of your LG HVAC system by examining the model number on the data stic at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look at the first two numbers after several letters at the beginning of the model number. It will be...

What size in tons is my MrCool heat pump air conditioner?

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
What size in tons is my MrCool heat pump air conditioner?

You can determine the size in tons of your MrCool HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look at the first two numbers after one or several letters at the beginning of the model number....

What size in tons is my Kelvinator heat pump or air conditioner?

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
What size in tons is my Kelvinator heat pump or air conditioner?

You can determine the size in tons of your Kelvinator HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Llook at the last two numbers before the last letters of the model number. It will be a...

What size in tons is my GE (General Electric) heat pump or air conditioner?

Monday, May 18, 2020
What size in tons is my GE (General Electric) heat pump or air conditioner?

You can determine the size in tons of your Kelvinator HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Llook at the last two numbers before the last letters of the model number. It will be a...

What size in tons is my Frigidaire heat pump or air conditioner?

Monday, May 18, 2020
What size in tons is my Frigidaire heat pump or air conditioner?

You can determine the size in tons of your Frigidaire HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look at the last two numbers before the last letter of the model number. It will be a number...

What size in tons is my Concord heat pump or air conditioner?

Monday, May 18, 2020
What size in tons is my Concord heat pump or air conditioner?

You can determine the size in tons of your Concord HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look at the last two numbers before the last letter of the model number. It will be a number...

What size in tons is my Coleman or Coleman-Evcon heat pump or air conditioner?

Monday, May 18, 2020
What size in tons is my Coleman or Coleman-Evcon heat pump or air conditioner?

You can determine the size in tons of your Coleman or Coleman-Evcon HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look for two numbers in the model number that are  divisible by 6 or 12, which...

What size in tons is my Climatemaster heat pump?

Monday, May 18, 2020
What size in tons is my Climatemaster heat pump?

Climatemaster does not conform to the standard that many other manufacturers use of rounding off the reference number for size of unit to a BTU number that equals a ton, or half ton, of cooling capacity, where a ton equals 12,000 BTU. So the model number...

How can I tell the age of my Allied Air heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Monday, May 18, 2020
How can I tell the age of my Allied Air heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

We know of two versions of the serial number age coding system for Allied Air. The first one uses the third and fourth number for the year of manufacture, so that 1408C12153 would be 2008. The second system puts the year in the 7th and 8th number (3rd...

What size in tons is my Allied Air heat pump or air conditioner?

Monday, May 18, 2020
What size in tons is my Allied Air heat pump or air conditioner?

You can determine the size in tons of your Allied Air HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look at the last two numbers at the end of the model number. It will be a number divisible...

Is a range hood exhaust fan required to vent outside?

Monday, May 18, 2020
Is a range hood exhaust fan required to vent outside?

A range hood fan is not required to vent to the exterior as long as the kitchen has other mechanical or natural ventilation (such as a window), and it is rated to be ductless. Here is how it is stated in both the International Residential Code (IRC)...

What size in tons is my Armstrong Air heat pump or air conditioner?

Sunday, May 17, 2020
What size in tons is my Armstrong Air heat pump or air conditioner?

You can determine the size in tons of your Armstrong HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look at the end of the model number. It will be a number divisible by 6 or 12, and represents...

Does a wall or window room air conditioner need a dedicated circuit?

Thursday, May 14, 2020
Does a wall or window room air conditioner need a dedicated circuit?

All 120-volt wall or window air conditioners that are around 8,000 BTU or more will have a sticker on the side, like the one shown above, that require a “single outlet” (dedicated) circuit. The reason is that the National Electrical Code (NEC) requires...

Do asphalt shingles need time to settle and adhere?

Thursday, May 14, 2020
Do asphalt shingles need time to settle and adhere?

Asphalts shingles require anywhere from several days to a month of warm weather for the adhesive strips under the lower edge of each shingle to soften and stick firmly to the shingle below it. Also, if there is any minor waviness in the surface right...

Is mold a wood destroying organism?

Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Is mold a wood destroying organism?

Although mold is a type of fungus that can grow on the surface of wood, it does not acturally consume the wood, so it is not categorized as a wood destroying organism. That’s why mold is not listed on a Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) report, often called...

Does a home inspector check remote controls?

Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Does a home inspector check remote controls?

A home inspector is not required to inspect remote controls, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and American Society of Home Inspectors...

What attracts termites to a house?

Monday, May 11, 2020
What attracts termites to a house?

Wood attracts termites to a house. It’s what they eat and it’s that simple. There are two main types of termites that infest homes, subterranean and drywood, and each has a different search tactic when trying to find the wood to consume that is necessary...

Do I need a termite inspection if the seller has a termite bond?

Monday, May 11, 2020
Do I need a termite inspection if the seller has a termite bond?

A termite inspection is actually called a Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) inspection, and it covers four types of organisms that eat the wood in a home: subterranean termites, drywood termites, several species of beetles, and wood decay fungi (wood rot)....

Does a home inspector check the garage door opener?

Sunday, May 10, 2020
Does a home inspector check the garage door opener?

Home inspectors are required to examine and test the garage door and opener, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and American Society...

Does a home inspector check insulation?

Sunday, May 10, 2020
Does a home inspector check insulation?

Home inspectors are required to do a visual examination of a home’s insulation where it is accessible to view, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors...

Do home inspectors check the clothes dryer exhaust vent system?

Sunday, May 10, 2020
Do home inspectors check the clothes dryer exhaust vent system?

Home inspectors are required to inspect the clothes dryer exhaust system, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and American Society...

Does a home inspector check bathroom exhaust fans?

Sunday, May 10, 2020
Does a home inspector check bathroom exhaust fans?

Home inspectors are required to inspect bathroom exhaust fans, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and American Society of Home...

Do home inspectors check chimneys?

Sunday, May 10, 2020
Do home inspectors check chimneys?

Home inspectors are required to do a visual examination of chimneys and fireplace vent systems, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)...

Do home inspectors check fireplaces?

Sunday, May 10, 2020
Do home inspectors check fireplaces?

Home inspectors are required to do a visual examination of a fireplace, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and American Society...

What is included in a plumbing inspection by a home inspector?

Saturday, May 9, 2020
What is included in a plumbing inspection by a home inspector?

Because a home inspection is primarily a visual examination of a property, most of the plumbing part of a home inspection involves looking at the components, noting the details of their type, size, and location, along with limited testing of a representative...

What is included in a furnace inspection by a home inspector?

Saturday, May 9, 2020
What is included in a furnace inspection by a home inspector?

Because a home inspection is primarily a visual examination of a property, most of the furnace/heating part of a home inspection involves looking at the components, noting the details of their type, location, distribution—and, of course, noting any...

What is included in an air conditioner inspection by a home inspector?

Friday, May 8, 2020
What is included in an air conditioner inspection by a home inspector?

Because a home inspection is primarily a visual examination of a property, most of the air conditioning part of a home inspection involves looking at the components, noting the details of their type, location, distribution—and, of course, noting any...

What is included in an electrical inspection by a home inspector?

Friday, May 8, 2020
What is included in an electrical inspection by a home inspector?

Because a home inspection is primarily a visual examination of a property, most of the electrical part of a home inspection involves looking at the components, noting the details of their type, size, and location, along with limited testing of a representative...

Does a home inspector check for roaches and ants?

Thursday, May 7, 2020
Does a home inspector check for roaches and ants?

A home inspector is not required to inspect for roaches and ants, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and American Society of Home...

Does a home inspector check for rodents?

Thursday, May 7, 2020
Does a home inspector check for rodents?

A home inspector is not required to inspect for rodents such as mice, rats, and squirrels, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and...

Does a termite inspector also check for carpenter bees?

Thursday, May 7, 2020
Does a termite inspector also check for carpenter bees?

Evidence of carpenter bees, and their damage, is not included in a WDO inspection report in Florida because they do not ingest the wood, and only bore into it for nesting. The inspector may tell you about any signs of carpenter bees found during the...

Does a termite inspector also check for carpenter ants?

Thursday, May 7, 2020
Does a termite inspector also check for carpenter ants?

Evidence of carpenter ants and their damage is not included in a WDO inspection report in Florida and many other states because they do not ingest the wood, and only bore into it for nesting. The inspector may tell you about any signs of carpenter ants...

Does a home inspector check for electromagnetic radiation fields?

Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Does a home inspector check for electromagnetic radiation fields?

A home inspector is not required to inspect for electromagnetic radiation fields, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and American...

Does a home inspector check seawalls and docks?

Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Does a home inspector check seawalls and docks?

A home inspector is not required to inspect docks and seawalls, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and American Society of Home...

Can you fail a four point inspection?

Monday, May 4, 2020
Can you fail a four point inspection?

Yes, you can fail a 4-point inspection, because its purpose is to prove to an insurance company that there are no problems with your home that might lead to a claim in the near future. Examples of problems would be an old, leaking roof, water heater...

What is maximum power cord length to a window or wall room air conditioner?

Monday, May 4, 2020
What is maximum power cord length to a window or wall room air conditioner?

The maximum length for a power cord to a room air conditioner is 10-feet for 120V units, and 6-feet for 240V, per 2017 National Electrical Code (NEC440.64). Here’s the complete citation:
440.64 Supply Cords.  Where a flexible cord is used to supply...

What is a septic loading dye test?

Monday, May 4, 2020
What is a septic loading dye test?

Some home inspectors offer a test of the septic system using a fluorescent dye that is flushed down a toilet, followed by a couple of hundred gallons of water flow into the tank, checking for traces of the dye in the ground above the drainfield as evidence...

Does a home inspector check awnings?

Monday, May 4, 2020
Does a home inspector check awnings?

A home inspector is not required to inspect or operate awnings, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and American Society of Home...

Does a home inspector check shutters?

Monday, May 4, 2020
Does a home inspector check shutters?

A home inspector is not required to inspect or operate shutters, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and American Society of Home...

Does a home inspector light pilot lights?

Monday, May 4, 2020
Does a home inspector light pilot lights?

A home inspector is not required to ignite a pilot light, if it is off, to test a gas appliance such as a water heater, older furnace, or gas fireplace, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International...

Does a home inspector inspect trees?

Sunday, May 3, 2020
Does a home inspector inspect trees?

Home inspectors are required to examine and report only on trees and other vegetation that may adversely affect the house, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified...

Does a home inspector check site grading and drainage?

Sunday, May 3, 2020
Does a home inspector check site grading and drainage?

Home inspectors are required to examine and report only on site grading and drainage that may adversely affect the structure of the house, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association...

Do home inspectors check retaining walls?

Sunday, May 3, 2020
Do home inspectors check retaining walls?

Home inspectors are required to examine and report only on retaining walls that may adversely affect the structure of the house, according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified...

Does a home inspector check window and door screens?

Sunday, May 3, 2020
Does a home inspector check window and door screens?

Home inspectors are not required to inspect window and door screens by the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and International Association of Certified Home Inspectors...

Does a home inspector test CO carbon monoxide alarms?

Sunday, May 3, 2020
Does a home inspector test CO carbon monoxide alarms?

Home inspectors must note the carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, but are not required to test them, according to the Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and International Association...

Does a home inspector test smoke alarms?

Sunday, May 3, 2020
Does a home inspector test smoke alarms?

Home inspectors must note the smoke alarms, but are not required to test them, according to the Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and International Association of Certified...

Do home inspectors check solar panels?

Saturday, May 2, 2020
Do home inspectors check solar panels?

There are three basic types of solar panels: phototvoltaic (PV), pool heaters, and water heaters. Home inspectors are not required to examine or test any of them, according to the Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations,...

Does a home inspector check the security alarm system?

Saturday, May 2, 2020
Does a home inspector check the security alarm system?

Home inspectors are not required to examine or test home security systems, according to the Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and American Society...

Does a home inspector check wiring?

Saturday, May 2, 2020
Does a home inspector check wiring?

Inspection of the electrical wiring is a standard part of any home inspection. It is required by the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and International Association of...

Does a home inspector check low voltage wiring?

Saturday, May 2, 2020
Does a home inspector check low voltage wiring?

Inspection of “low voltage wiring systems and components" is excluded from a home inspection according to the Standards of Practice of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors...

Does a home inspector check water treatment and filter systems?

Friday, May 1, 2020
Does a home inspector check water treatment and filter systems?

Home inspectors are not required to check water treatment, conditioning, or filter systems. They are exluded from the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)...

Does a home inspector reinspect to verify repairs after the inspection?

Friday, May 1, 2020
Does a home inspector reinspect to verify repairs after the inspection?

Most home inspectors will reinspect to verify repairs if requested by a homebuyer. It is not a required service by the Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations, ASHI and InterNACHI, or any state standards. There is an additional...

Does a home inspector specify repairs?

Thursday, April 30, 2020
Does a home inspector specify repairs?

Home inspectors are expected to make recommendations as necessary for defects that are found, but are not required to specify exactly what how it should be done. Here’s the way it is stated in the Standards of Practice for inspectors in the State of...

Does a home inspector check the water softener?

Thursday, April 30, 2020
Does a home inspector check the water softener?

Water softeners, along with other water treatment systems, are specifically excluded from the inspection requirements of the Standards of Practice of both national home inspection associations, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and International...

Do I need a permit to install a water softener?

Thursday, April 30, 2020
Do I need a permit to install a water softener?

The requirement for a permit varies according to the building department jurisdiction where you are located. Some do not require a permit, others require a permit and licensed plumber, or a permit and inspection but you can do it yourself. 
...

What does a home inspector check at a water heater?

Thursday, April 30, 2020
What does a home inspector check at a water heater?

The basic requirements for a home inspector examining a water heater are outlined in the Standards of Practice of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI): “The inspector shall inspect the water heating equipment, including...

Does a home inspector check the water heater?

Thursday, April 30, 2020
Does a home inspector check the water heater?

Inspecting the water heater is a routine part of any home inspection. The Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations and the State of Florida require it. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) states that “the inspector...

What size in tons is a Coleman or Coleman Evcon heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Thursday, April 30, 2020
What size in tons is a Coleman or Coleman Evcon heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

You can determine the “nominal” size of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning filter, the exact cooling capacity may...

Does a home inspector check an emergency generator?

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Does a home inspector check an emergency generator?

Emergency power generator systems are not a required part of a home inspection according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and American...

Do home inspectors check for mold?

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Do home inspectors check for mold?

Home inspectors are not required to search for, or identify, mold during an inspection. Both of the national home inspector associations exclude mold in their Standards of Practice. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) states that the home...

Does a home inspector check the well?

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Does a home inspector check the well?

A home inspector is not required to inspect “wells, well pumps, and water storage related equipment” according to the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and International...

Does a home inspector check the microwave oven?

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Does a home inspector check the microwave oven?

The two major national home inspector associations each have a different view of microwaves: one requires testing and the other doesn't. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) states that “the home inspector is not required...

Does a home inspector check the garbage disposal?

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Does a home inspector check the garbage disposal?

The two major national home inspector associations each have a different view of garbage disposals: one requires testing and the other doesn't. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) states that “the home inspector is...

What size in tons is a Friedrich heat pump or air conditioner from the model number?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020
What size in tons is a Friedrich heat pump or air conditioner from the model number?

You can determine the “nominal” size of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning filter, the exact cooling capacity may...

Does a home inspector check the central vacuum system?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Does a home inspector check the central vacuum system?

Central vacuum systems are specifically excluded from the list of home components required to be inspected under their Standards of Practice by both national home inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)...

Does a home inspector check the AFCI receptacles and breakers?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Does a home inspector check the AFCI receptacles and breakers?

Home inspectors are required to inspect AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacle outlets and circuit breakers by the Standards of Practice of both national inspector associations, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)...

Does a home inspector troubleshoot things that don't work during a home inspection?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Does a home inspector troubleshoot things that don't work during a home inspection?

A home inspection is essentially a visual examination of a home, and is not “technically exhaustive,” Which means that systems or components are not disassembled as part of the inspection. 
    The inspector must “make recommendations for correction...

Does a home inspector check interior finishes like paint, wallpaper, and carpet?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Does a home inspector check interior finishes like paint, wallpaper, and carpet?

Inspectors are required to report on interior floors, walls, and ceilings; but finishes like paint, wallpaper, floor coverings and carpet are specifically excluded from the inspection requirements of the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector...

Does a home inspector check for appliance recalls?

Monday, April 27, 2020
Does a home inspector check for appliance recalls?

Most home inspectors do not check for appliance recalls, and it is not required by the Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations, American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the International Association of Certified Home...

How do I find the size in tons of my heat pump?

Monday, April 27, 2020
How do I find the size in tons of my heat pump?

To get specific instructions and an example for your brand, click on one of the links below:Affinity    Aire-Flo   Airquest   Allied Air  Amana  American Standard    Ameristar    Arcoaire  Bard   Bosch  Bryant   CAC/BDPCarrier  Champion  Climatemaster...

Are asphalt shingles slippery when wet?

Monday, April 27, 2020
Are asphalt shingles slippery when wet?

Asphalt shingles are not slippery when wet because the rock granules embedded in the surface provide good traction. But the granules gradually come loose as the roof ages, and loose granules can make even a dry roof difficult to walk on without sliding....

What size in tons is a Sears Kenmore air conditioner or heat pump from the model number?

Monday, April 27, 2020
What size in tons is a Sears Kenmore air conditioner or heat pump from the model number?

You can determine the “nominal” size of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning filter, the exact cooling capacity may...

SMOKE AND CO ALARMS

Sunday, April 26, 2020
SMOKE AND CO ALARMS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about “SMOKE AND CO ALARMS":
• What is the best place to install carbon monoxide alarms (CO detectors) in a house? 
• Can the smoke sensors in a home security/fire alarm system replace the smoke...

What size in tons is a FHP (Florida Heat Pump) geothermal heat pump from the model number?

Sunday, April 26, 2020
What size in tons is a FHP (Florida Heat Pump) geothermal heat pump from the model number?

You can determine the “nominal” size of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the front side of the unit. Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning filter, the exact cooling capacity may be a little more...

What size in tons is a Janitrol air conditioner or heat pump from the model number?

Sunday, April 26, 2020
What size in tons is a Janitrol air conditioner or heat pump from the model number?

You can determine the “nominal” size of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning filter, the exact cooling capacity may...

What size in tons is a Miller air conditioner or heat pump from the model number?

Sunday, April 26, 2020
What size in tons is a Miller air conditioner or heat pump from the model number?

You can determine the “nominal” size of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning filter, the exact cooling capacity may...

What size in tons is a Guardian air conditioner or heat pump from the model number?

Sunday, April 26, 2020
What size in tons is a Guardian air conditioner or heat pump from the model number?

You can determine the “nominal” size of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning filter, the exact cooling capacity may...

What size in tons is a Luxaire air conditioner or heat pump from the model number?

Sunday, April 26, 2020
What size in tons is a Luxaire air conditioner or heat pump from the model number?

You can determine the “nominal” size of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning filter, the exact cooling capacity may...

Can an electrical panel have more than one main breaker?

Saturday, April 25, 2020
Can an electrical panel have more than one main breaker?

A main service panel can have up to six main breakers, per National Electrical Code [230.72(A)]. Almost all modern panels have a single main breaker, which is called a “service disconnect” in the electrical code, but more are allowed. So the panel shown...

Does code allow an electrical panel in a storage room?

Saturday, April 25, 2020
Does code allow an electrical panel in a storage room?

An electrical panel can be installed in a storage room, but there are multiple restrictions in the National Electrical Code:
1) There must be a clear working space in front of the panel that is 30” wide by 36” deep, per NEC 110.26(A). Panel does...

Do electrical panels have to be labeled?

Friday, April 24, 2020
Do electrical panels have to be labeled?

Electrical panel circuits are required to be clearly labeled by the National Electrical Code (NEC 408.4) as follows:
Every circuit must be legibly identified to its specific purpose or use.
The identification must be sufficient to distinguish...

How can I tell the age of an EcoSmart water heater from the serial number?

Friday, April 24, 2020
How can I tell the age of an EcoSmart water heater from the serial number?

EcoSmart does not encode the date of manufacture in the serial number of their water heaters, but you can call their customer service line at 877-474-6473 with the number, or email them at support@ecosmartUS.com, and they will provide you with the manufacture...

What size in tons is a Mitsubishi air conditioner or heat pump from model number?

Friday, April 24, 2020
What size in tons is a Mitsubishi air conditioner or heat pump from model number?

You can determine the “nominal” size of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning filter, the exact cooling capacity may...

What size in tons is a Xenon air conditioner or heat pump from model number?

Friday, April 24, 2020
What size in tons is a Xenon air conditioner or heat pump from model number?

Xenon is a premium line manufactured by Goodman.You can determine the “nominal” size of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning...

What size in tons is a Panasonic air conditioner or heat pump from model number?

Friday, April 24, 2020
What size in tons is a Panasonic air conditioner or heat pump from model number?

You can determine the “nominal” size of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning filter, the exact cooling capacity may...

What size in tons is a Maytag air conditioner or heat pump from model number?

Friday, April 24, 2020
What size in tons is a Maytag air conditioner or heat pump from model number?

You can determine the “nominal” size of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning filter, the exact cooling capacity may...

How can I tell the age of a Maytag heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Friday, April 24, 2020
How can I tell the age of a Maytag heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

The 4th and 5th digits of the serial number of a Maytag HVAC product are the year of manufacture. So the data plate shown below indicates it was built in 2006.

    For the age of another brand or manufacturer, go to our blog post How do I...

How can I tell the age of an LG heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Thursday, April 23, 2020
How can I tell the age of an LG heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

The first digit in the serial number on an LG data plate is the year of manufacture, but it does not give you the decade. So, for example, 705KWPZ64912 could be 2007 or 2017. Look at the condition of the unit for an indication of the decade. The serial...

How can I tell the age of a Concord heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Thursday, April 23, 2020
How can I tell the age of a Concord heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

If there is a single letter in the middle of the serial number, then the 3rd and 4th digits are the year of manufacture. So, for example, 1617C11520 was produced in 2017. 

    When there is not a letter in the serial number, then the last...

How can I tell the age of a ClimateMaster heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Thursday, April 23, 2020
How can I tell the age of a ClimateMaster heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

If the first digit of the serial number is a letter, then use the letter code system below to determine the year of manufacture.
H = 1998    A = 1999    B = 2000    C = 2001D = 2002    E = 2003    F = 2004    G = 2005J =  2006    K = 2007    L...

How can I tell the age of a Sanyo heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Thursday, April 23, 2020
How can I tell the age of a Sanyo heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

The 6th digit of Sanyo’s 7-digit serial number on the data plate is the year of manufacture, but not the decade. So, for example, 0247381 could be 1998, 2008, or 2018. Fortunately, the year of manufacture may also be listed directly on the data plate,...

How can I tell the age of a Panasonic heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Thursday, April 23, 2020
How can I tell the age of a Panasonic heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

The age is not encoded in the serial number for Panasonic products. It is usually listed on the data plate as “DATE NO." So the data plate shown below indicates the unit was built in 2005.
    But it may also be shown on the data plate as “PRODUCTION...

How can I tell the age of a MagicAire HVAC unit from the serial number?

Wednesday, April 22, 2020
How can I tell the age of a MagicAire HVAC unit from the serial number?

The first two numbers of the serial number on the data plate, after a single letter, are the year of manufacture for MagicAire products. So, for example, W040625437 was manufactured in 2004.
    For the age of another brand or manufacturer, go...

How can I tell the age of a Samsung heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Wednesday, April 22, 2020
How can I tell the age of a Samsung heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Samsung uses a letter code in the serial number for the year of manufacture on the data plate for the unit. If the serial number is 10 or 11 digits, the letter is at the fourth digit. For 15-digit serial numbers, it’s located at the 8th digit.
R...

How can I tell the age of a John Wood water heater from the serial number?

Wednesday, April 22, 2020
How can I tell the age of a John Wood water heater from the serial number?

The first two numbers of the serial number, after a single letter, are the year of manufacture for a John Wood water heater. So, for example, S1112F601242 would mean it was produced in 2011.
To determine the age of another manufacturer/brand of...

What is the best location for a heat pump?

Wednesday, April 22, 2020
What is the best location for a heat pump?

The standard criteria for the location of a heat pump condenser are: 1) out of view from the front of the house, and 2) where condenser noise will not be a problem. That usually means putting it at the side wall of the garage. But there are a couple...

What is the best location for an air conditioner?

Wednesday, April 22, 2020
What is the best location for an air conditioner?

The standard criteria for the location of an air conditioning condenser are: 1) out of view from the front of the house, and 2) where condenser noise will not be a problem. That usually means putting it at the side wall of the garage. But there are...

How much clearance is necessary around a heat pump?

Tuesday, April 21, 2020
How much clearance is necessary around a heat pump?

The standard recommendation for clearances around a heat pump condenser (outdoor unit) are: minimum one foot at sides, except two feet away from any solid wall, and five feet open above. But these are the minimums, and more is always better. A condenser...

How much clearance is needed around an air conditioner?

Tuesday, April 21, 2020
How much clearance is needed around an air conditioner?

The standard recommendation for clearances around an air conditioning condenser (outdoor unit) are: minimum one foot at sides, except two feet away from any solid wall, and five feet open above. These are the minimums, and more is always better. A condenser...

Where is the attic?

Monday, April 20, 2020
Where is the attic?

The building code requires an attic access opening to be in a “hallway or other readily accessible location”. So the first place to look is the hall ceiling. Other likely locations are the garage, carport or master bedroom closet. We have also seen...

Where should attic access be placed by code?

Monday, April 20, 2020
Where should attic access be placed by code?

The attic access opening must be located in a “hallway or other readily accessible location” according to the International Residential Code (IRC R807). Also, the “minimum unobstructed headroom in the attic space shall be 30” at some point above the...

What are the HUD-code requirements for mobile home ventilation?

Sunday, April 19, 2020
What are the HUD-code requirements for mobile home ventilation?

There are separate requirements for whole-house, kitchen, and bathroom ventilation:
•• Whole-house - HUD requires that a manufactured home have a whole-house ventilation system with a minimum capacity of 0.035 cubic feet per minute per square foot...

When was aluminum wiring banned in mobile homes?

Saturday, April 18, 2020
When was aluminum wiring banned in mobile homes?

Aluminum wiring has not been used in mobile homes since the early 1970s, and has been banned by HUD since the beginning of HUD jurisdiction over mobile home construction in 1976. “Aluminum conductors, aluminum alloy conductors, and aluminum core conductors...

How can I tell if I have a buried fuel oil tank?

Saturday, April 18, 2020
How can I tell if I have a buried fuel oil tank?

If you see two pipes sticking out of the ground in the yard that look like the picture above, then an abandoned fuel oil tank lurks in the ground below. There may still be a few functional fuel oil fired furnaces still in use in Florida, but we haven’t...

What does concrete spalling look like?

Saturday, April 18, 2020
What does concrete spalling look like?

Spalling is the deterioration of a concrete surface over time, with crack lines forming first, then chunks of concrete falling out as the problem advances. It is caused by moisture penetrating the layer of concrete covering the reinforcing steel in...

Can termites get through a concrete slab?

Thursday, April 16, 2020
Can termites get through a concrete slab?

Termites cannot chew their way through concrete. But they are so tiny that two termites will fit on the head of a match. So any crack of 1/8” or more that penetrates through the slab will give them enough space to get through. The photo above is an...

Why is an S-trap illegal?

Thursday, April 16, 2020
Why is an S-trap illegal?

An S-trap, like in the photo above, has been banned by the building codes for decades, because it is considered an “unvented” drain. Venting is necessary for a sink to drain properly. In essence, sufficient air has to get into the pipe in order to displace...

How can I tell age of National Comfort Products heat pump or air conditioner from serial number?

Thursday, April 16, 2020
How can I tell age of National Comfort Products heat pump or air conditioner from serial number?

National Comfort Products is a manufacturer of thru-the-wall HVAC systems for multi-family construction. The second and third digits of the serial number are encoded to indicate the year of manufacture, based on the listing below:
32 = late 1998,...

Does a home inspector locate the main water shut-off valve?

Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Does a home inspector locate the main water shut-off valve?

Inspectors are required to describe the location of the main water shut-off valve, which is important to know for emergency use. The Standards of Practice of both the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the International Association of Certified...

What is life expectancy of whole house surge protector?

Wednesday, April 15, 2020
What is life expectancy of whole house surge protector?

How long does a whole house surge protector last?
You can expect a whole house surge protector to last between 2 and 5 years. Because a surge protector’s functional lifespan is measured by the cumulative total of the number and size of the surges...

What is a bell trap at a plumbing drain?

Wednesday, April 15, 2020
What is a bell trap at a plumbing drain?

A bell trap is essentially a water reservoir cup with a bell shape over it that dips into the cup to form a seal. Although once acceptable and common for a floor drain, it is now prohibited by the Internation Residential Code (IRC P3201.5). Bell traps...

What plumbing traps are illegal by code?

Tuesday, April 14, 2020
What plumbing traps are illegal by code?

Here are six types of plumbing traps that are not approved by the International Residential Code. Here’s the citation: 

1) Building Trap - This is a kind of “whole house trap” that is on the final line out to the sewer. It dates back to the...

Do handrails have to return to the wall?

Monday, April 13, 2020
Do handrails have to return to the wall?

The ends of a handrail have to return to the wall for safety, to avoid getting a handbag or piece of clothing snagged on an open end and causing a fall. Here’s how it is stated in the International Residential Code (IRC):  
     A safety terminal...

Does garage door to house have to be fire rated?

Monday, April 13, 2020
Does garage door to house have to be fire rated?

Because so many house fires start in the garage, due to the numerous flammables stored there—not the least of which is a car gas tank—the building code requires a fire-resistant barrier between an attached garage and the house. The building code uses...

Does a home inspector go in the attic?

Monday, April 13, 2020
Does a home inspector go in the attic?

Entering an attic is a standard part of any home inspection, except when doing so may be potentially hazardous to the inspector. The Standards of Practice for Florida-licensed inspectors, along with both national home inspector associations, agree on...

Does a home inspector walk on the roof?

Monday, April 13, 2020
Does a home inspector walk on the roof?

“Are you going to go on the roof?” That’s a question we get often, and the answer is yes...well, most of the time. The Standards of Practice of InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors) do not require that the inspector actually...

Does a home inspector check gutters?

Monday, April 13, 2020
Does a home inspector check gutters?

Home inspectors are required to examine and report on gutters, according to the Standards of Practice for State of Florida licensed inspectors and the two national home inspector associations (ASHI and InterNACHI). InterNACHI specifies that gutters...

How close can electrical be to plumbing in a house?

Monday, April 13, 2020
How close can electrical be to plumbing in a house?

Plumbing pipes and electrical conduit or NM-cable can run side-by-side. There is no minimum separation requirement. For example, electrical conduit and water pipes are only a few inches apart at the top of a water heater. 
    The only location...

What is minimum distance from sink to receptacle outlet?

Monday, April 13, 2020
What is minimum distance from sink to receptacle outlet?

There is no code-required minimum distance required between a sink and a receptacle outlet. But a receptacle put directly behind a sink, like in the photo above of a bathroom sink, is not recommended because the cord can fall into water in the sink...

Does a home inspector check sewer lines underground?

Sunday, April 12, 2020
Does a home inspector check sewer lines underground?

A home inspection is primarily a visual examination of a home and underground sewer lines are not accessible to view. Also, the Standards of Practice for home inspectors in the State of Florida, along with the two national home inspector associations...

How often should I check my attic?

Sunday, April 12, 2020
How often should I check my attic?

We recommend poking your head up in the attic to look around every six months or so. But definitely once a year at a minimum and after any major storm passes over. If you keep holiday decorations in the attic, that would be a good time to sweep the...

What is Florida code for mobile home repair or remodeling?

Sunday, April 12, 2020
What is Florida code for mobile home repair or remodeling?

Mobile home repair and remodeling is covered under the Florida Administrative Code Rule 15C-2.0081 For Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Division of Motor Vehicles, Rules of Procedure for Bureau of Mobile Home and Recreational Vehicle...

Is efflorescence a serious problem?

Saturday, April 11, 2020
Is efflorescence a serious problem?

Efflorescence is not harmful and is primarily just a cosmetic problem. But it is a symptom of ongoing moisture intrusion behind the porous surface of a masonry wall, which can eventually cause structural damage if allowed to continue. The powder that...

Does a home inspection include a detached carport?

Saturday, April 11, 2020
Does a home inspection include a detached carport?

Whether or not a detached carport is required to be included in a standard home inspection depends of which Standards of Practice the home inspector uses. The State of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR 61-30.810(3)(d))...

Does a home inspection include a detached garage?

Saturday, April 11, 2020
Does a home inspection include a detached garage?

Whether or not a detached garage is required to be included in a standard home inspection depends of which Standards of Practice the home inspector uses. The State of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR 61-30.810(3)(d))...

PLUMBING DRAINS AND TRAPS

Friday, April 10, 2020
PLUMBING DRAINS AND TRAPS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about PLUMBING DRAINS AND TRAPS:
• Why can't a sanitary tee be used for a horizontal-to-horizontal drain pipe connection? 
• Is a washing machine drain hose required to be secured at the standpipe?

ELECTRICAL WIRING

Friday, April 10, 2020
ELECTRICAL WIRING

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about ELECTRICAL WIRING:
• Which house appliances need a dedicated electrical circuit?
• Can a short circuit cause a high electric bill?
• When did the requirement for two 20-amp kitchen...

Does increasing water pipe size increase water pressure?

Friday, April 10, 2020
Does increasing water pipe size increase water pressure?

The water pressure serving a house is the same at all sizes of pipe because it is a static measurement, meaning that it is determined with no water flowing. But, as soon as a faucet is opened, the pressure will drop and smaller pipes have a larger pressure...

Does code require receptacle on wall behind door swing?

Thursday, April 9, 2020
Does code require receptacle on wall behind door swing?

The National Electrical Code (NEC) does not exempt an area of wall behind a door swing when calculating receptacle outlet spacing requirements in a house. No point along any wall more than two feet wide cannot be more than six feet from a receptacle...

When did HUD start regulating mobile homes?

Thursday, April 9, 2020
When did HUD start regulating mobile homes?

HUD enforcement of construction standards for manufactured homes took effect on June 15, 1976. It was part of he “National Mobile Home Construction and Safety Standards Act” that was passed by Congress and enacted into law by president Gerald Ford on...

How do I stop water from getting under my mobile home?

Wednesday, April 8, 2020
How do I stop water from getting under my mobile home?

Puddles of water or muddy ground under a mobile home are caused by either a plumbing leak or a poorly graded site that allows rainwater to run under the home. Long-term lumbing leaks can be avoided by pulling up a few panels of skirting to check under...

What do ground wires look like?

Wednesday, April 8, 2020
What do ground wires look like?

Ground wires (also called grounding conductors) are either bare metal or have green insulation. Neutral (grounded conductor) wires are white, and hot wires are black, red, or sometimes blue.
    Also see our blog posts Can old electrical wiring...

What is the difference between a collar tie and rafter tie?

Wednesday, April 8, 2020
What is the difference between a collar tie and rafter tie?

Both a collar tie and a rafter tie are horizontal connectors between a pair of rafters that meet at a center ridge board across a span. The difference between them is that a collar tie is placed up near the ridge beam, but a rafter tie gets installed...

Is a home inspection required for a VA loan?

Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Is a home inspection required for a VA loan?

No, a home inspection is not necessary for Veterans Administration (VA) home loans, but all lending institutions highly recommend that you get a house inspected before you buy it. In fact, HUD requires that applicants for an FHA or VA loan sign a form...

Is a home inspection required for an FHA loan?

Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Is a home inspection required for an FHA loan?

No, a home inspection is not necessary for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) home loans, but all lending institutions highly recommend that you get a house inspected before you buy it. In fact, HUD requires that applicants for an FHA or VA loan sign...

How do I find out the wind zone of my mobile home?

Tuesday, April 7, 2020
How do I find out the wind zone of my mobile home?

Your mobile home’s wind zone rating is listed on the HUD data plate. The data plate is a large paper sticker that can be found on the inside of a kitchen cabinet door, inside the door to the electrical panel, or on the wall of a closet.
    If...

How long does it take for a wind mitigation inspection?

Tuesday, April 7, 2020
How long does it take for a wind mitigation inspection?

A wind mitigation inspection usually takes about 30 minutes on site, but may require up to an hour if documentation of windows and shutters has to be reviewed. There are seven different hurricane-resistant construction details of a home that the inspector...

How long does it take for a four point inspection?

Tuesday, April 7, 2020
How long does it take for a four point inspection?

A four point inspection usually takes 30 to 40 minutes on site, and covers the four main components of a house: roof, electrical, plumbing, and heating/air-conditioning. Its purpose is to give an insurance company a clear picture of the condition of...

What is a four point inspection?

Tuesday, April 7, 2020
What is a four point inspection?

A four point is an insurance inspection that evaluates the condition of four major components of a home: roof, electrical, plumbing, and heating/air-conditioning. Its purpose is to give an insuror a clear picture of the condition of a home, particularly...

Does a home inspector test all the doors in a house?

Monday, April 6, 2020
Does a home inspector test all the doors in a house?

The State of Florida’s standard for inspecting doors for a home inspection (61-30.807 Standards of Practice, Interior Components) states that “when inspecting doors and windows, the inspector may inspect a representative number of doors and windows.”...

Is it legal to install a three-prong outlet without a ground?

Monday, April 6, 2020
Is it legal to install a three-prong outlet without a ground?

Three-prong outlet receptacles without a ground connection are legal, per National Electrical Code [NEC 406.4(D)(2)(b,c)], as long as they are GFCI-protected. You can provide GFCI-protection by replacing the old receptacle with a GFCI one, replacing...

Do receptacle outlets have to be grounded?

Monday, April 6, 2020
Do receptacle outlets have to be grounded?

Grounded three-slot receptacles have been required for new construction since the 1962 edition of the National Electrical Code [NEC 406.4(A)]. But two-slot (ungrounded) receptacles installed before the code changed are allowed to remain in place, and...

Are two-prong outlets up to code and legal?

Monday, April 6, 2020
Are two-prong outlets up to code and legal?

Existing ungrounded two-prong receptacle outlets are allowed to remain in place by the National Electrical Code [NEC 406.4(D)(2)], and they can also be replaced with another two-prong receptacle at locations where a ground connection does not exist,...

How long is a four point inspection valid?

Sunday, April 5, 2020
How long is a four point inspection valid?

A four point inspection report remains valid for one year after the date of the inspection for submission to an insurance company. This is what it says at the Citizens Insurance website Q&A: "The four-point inspection report must be dated within the...

What is the average life expectancy of a rubber roof?

Sunday, April 5, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a rubber roof?

How long does a rubber roof last?
A rubber roof can be expected to last 20 to 30 years. Possibly longer with diligent maintenance. The technical name for a rubber roof is EPDM, which stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer. It is a synthetic...

Do home inspectors check carpet condition?

Sunday, April 5, 2020
Do home inspectors check carpet condition?

Carpeting is considered a cosmetic item for a home inspection, and in the same category as paint, wallpaper, and window treatments. So deteriorated or stained carpet is not ordinarily included in an inspection report.
    But there are exceptions....

Does a inspector enter the crawl space under the house?

Saturday, April 4, 2020
Does a inspector enter the crawl space under the house?

“Are you gonna go under the house?” That’s often the first question we get asked when arriving at an old house inspection. And our answer is always the the same: “Sure, we will try.” 

    Several obstacles can make the process of getting...

What is code for dryer vents?

Saturday, April 4, 2020
What is code for dryer vents?

Dryer venting systems are covered in the International Residential Code (IRC) at M1502 - Clothes Dryer Exhaust. Here’s a summary of the requirements:
• Dryers must be exhausted in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions (IRC M1502.1).
•...

Is it illegal to disconnect a smoke alarm?

Friday, April 3, 2020
Is it illegal to disconnect a smoke alarm?

We know of no ordinance that prohibits a homeowner from removing or disconnecting their own smoke alarm; but a few jurisdictions make it illegal, under penalty of a fine, for a tenant to “remove the batteries or tamper with a smoke alarm in any way.”...

Where should smoke alarms NOT be installed?

Friday, April 3, 2020
Where should smoke alarms NOT be installed?

The logic behind where smoke alarms should NOT be installed is simply to avoid locations where they will not function properly or the environment may damage the unit. Here’s our list, with an explanation for each one:
• In a kitchen, or near a...

What are the signs that a mobile home is not level?

Thursday, April 2, 2020
What are the signs that a mobile home is not level?

The signs that a mobile home is out-of-level are similar to the symptoms of a site-built house that has foundation problems. If one of the defects listed below catches your eye, we suggest going around your home and carefully checking for the others:

How often should you relevel a mobile home?

Thursday, April 2, 2020
How often should you relevel a mobile home?

A mobile home in Florida on a standard stacked-block foundation should be releveled every 3 to 5 years. If you live in an area with frost heave, you may need to do it as often as every year or two. 
    Homes with a slab or deep foundation only...

What causes a garage floor to crack?

Thursday, April 2, 2020
What causes a garage floor to crack?

Cracks in a garage floor get more attention than other areas of a home for the simple reason that they are exposed to view in a big, open area, with no floor covering over them. There are two main reasons for garage floor cracks and a cluster of other...

What is an FBC roof covering?

Thursday, April 2, 2020
What is an FBC roof covering?

FBC stands for Florida Building Code, and an FBC roof covering is one that meets the standards of the 2001 Florida Building Code or a later edition, and the date of the roofing permit application was March 1, 2002, which is when the 2001 FBC went into...

Can two sinks share a trap?

Monday, March 30, 2020
Can two sinks share a trap?

Two sinks can share a trap as long as the centerline of the outlet (tailpiece) of both sinks is not more than 30-inches horizontally from the trap centerline, per International Plumbing Code (IRC P3201.6), as shown in the diagram above.
   Also,...

What is a double trap in plumbing?

Monday, March 30, 2020
What is a double trap in plumbing?

A double trap is two plumbing traps in tandem, one after the other in line, and this often causes the first trap to get sucked out by the last trap. An example of one sink trap connected to another sink’s trap is shown above. Only one trap is allowed...

How long should a stair handrail be?

Saturday, March 28, 2020
How long should a stair handrail be?

A handrail must be continuous for the entire length of a stair, from directly above the top riser to directly above the bottom riser, and terminate (die into) the adjacent wall or a newel post, per International Residential Code (IRC 311.7.8.2). It...

What is a grippable handrail?

Saturday, March 28, 2020
What is a grippable handrail?

A graspable handrail is one that you can easily and securely get your hand around to steady yourself while you are on a stair. It must be continuous for the entire length of a stair, from directly above the top riser to directly above the bottom riser,...

What is code for dryer vent termination clearance?

Friday, March 27, 2020
What is code for dryer vent termination clearance?

Many manufacturer's installation manuals specify a minimum 12-inch clearance around the termination of a dryer vent to the ground and any adjacent wall or other obstruction to the air flow. We know of no requirement in the International Residential...

What is code for garage receptacle outlets?

Friday, March 27, 2020
What is code for garage receptacle outlets?

“At least one 120-volt, 20-ampere branch circuit shall be installed to supply receptacle outlets in attached garages and in detached garages with electrical power,” according to the National Electrical Code [NEC 210.11(C)(4)]. There is also the requirement...

Are temite shields required by code?

Thursday, March 26, 2020
Are temite shields required by code?

Termite shields are an old-time code requirement that has been replaced by chemical treatments and other construction standards. They have not been code for over 50 years and we only see them in 1960s and earlier houses, with the exception of some newer...

Can you have a deck without a railing?

Thursday, March 26, 2020
Can you have a deck without a railing?

A deck is not required to have a railing if it is not more than 30-inches above any ground level within 24-inches of the edge of the deck. So any deck that is more than 30-inches high requires a guardrail that is minimum 30-inches high, per International...

When is a handrail required on both sides of stairs?

Thursday, March 26, 2020
When is a handrail required on both sides of stairs?

A handrail is only required on one side of a stair with four or more risers (three or more treads), per the International Residential Code (IRC 311.7.8). There is no requirement for a handrail at both sides of a residential stair, although it is an...

What is a safe level of radon?

Tuesday, March 24, 2020
What is a safe level of radon?

Less than 4.0 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) is considered a reasonably safe level for indoor air by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The World Health Organization (WHO) sets a lower maximum of  2.7 pCi/L.
    But neither...

Does a home inspector check water pressure?

Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Does a home inspector check water pressure?

When a home buyer is concerned about water pressure, the problem is usually actually water flow. Water pressure in a municpal system is sufficiently high and private well systems also have a pressure adjustment that is set at an adequate level for normal...

Is 45 degrees too steep for a stair?

Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Is 45 degrees too steep for a stair?

A stair at a 45-degree angle is not allowed by code due to the maximum riser and minimum tread standards. The maximum riser allowed by the International Residential Code (IRC) is 7-3/4”, but a 7-3/4” tread is smaller than the minimum tread depth of...

What is a tankless water heater average life expectancy?

Tuesday, March 24, 2020
What is a tankless water heater average life expectancy?

You can expect a tankless (on-demand) water heater to last 18 to 24 years, with an average of 20 years. Maintenance is important for a long life, and the critical task is flushing it out regularly. An isolator valve kit needs to be installed in order...

Do I need a radon test for a house with a radon mitigation system?

Monday, March 23, 2020
Do I need a radon test for a house with a radon mitigation system?

Unfortunately, the fact that a house already has a radon mitigation system does not guarantee that the radon level in the home is below the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maximum for indoor air of 4.0 pCi/L (pico curies per liter of air). So...

How far should stair nosing stick out?

Sunday, March 22, 2020
How far should stair nosing stick out?

A nosing should not extend past the face of the riser below it less than 1/4 inch or more than 1-1/4 inch, according to the International Residential Code (IRC R311.7.5.3). A nosing is not required for treads 11 inches or more. Since the minimum size...

Do you have to disclose polybutylene pipes to a homebuyer?

Sunday, March 22, 2020
Do you have to disclose polybutylene pipes to a homebuyer?

Any defect of a home that materially affects the value or livability of a house must be included in the seller’s disclosure form, if known. Because of premature failure leakge problems of PB (polybutylene) pipe that caused class action lawsuits and...

Does a home inspector look for code violations?

Thursday, March 19, 2020
Does a home inspector look for code violations?

This is a touchy subject for most home inspectors. Some inspectors refuse to quote code and others do it in a very limited way to reinforce their observation of an unsafe situation in a home. 
    The reason is simple: building codes are a moving...

Can a home inspector condemn a house?

Thursday, March 19, 2020
Can a home inspector condemn a house?

A home inspector has no legal authority to declare a house unfit for habitation. That would be a process which typically starts with an evaluation by a building inspector or code enforcement inspector employed by a city or county that has jurisdiction...

Are kickout flashings required by code?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Are kickout flashings required by code?

A kickoff flashing, also called a diverter flashing, is required by the International Residential Code (IRC R093.2.1). It is installed at the termination of a roof-to-wall flashing where it meets the eave and shifts the direction of the water flowing...

Do stair tread edges have to be rounded?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Do stair tread edges have to be rounded?

There is no requirement for the leading edge of a stair tread to be rounded, but a number of good reason why it should be. Most stair residential stair treads are wood and rounding reducing the incidence of splintering of the edge. Also, a square edge...

What is a low slope roof?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
What is a low slope roof?

Good question. And the answer depends on who you ask. The American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) defines a low slope roof as less than a 2/12 pitch (2 units vertical for every 12 units horizontal). Carson & Dunlop, a well-known engineering firm,...

How many receptacle outlets should be in a room?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020
How many receptacle outlets should be in a room?

The number of receptacles required by code for most rooms in the living areas of a house is not specified by number, but by distance along the wall to a receptacle. The maximum spacing between receptacles is 12 feet, with no point along a wall being...

Do floor receptacle outlets need to be GFCI?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Do floor receptacle outlets need to be GFCI?

There is no code requirement for all floor receptacles to be GFCI-protected. But when they are in a location requiring GFCI, such as a bathroom, then it is necessary. For a full list of all places code-required for GFCI, see our blog post Where are...

What is code for distance from receptacle outlet to a door?

Monday, March 16, 2020
What is code for distance from receptacle outlet to a door?

A wall receptacle outlet must be no more than 6 feet from a door at an interior wall, but there is no minimum distance. If the wall on either side of the door is 2 feet or less long, a receptacle is not required on the wall, but the length of the wall...

Do floor receptacle outlets count for code spacing requirements?

Monday, March 16, 2020
Do floor receptacle outlets count for code spacing requirements?

A floor receptacle outlet cannot be counted towards the minimum requirements, either for spacing between receptacles or minimum number of receptacles per area, unless the floor receptacle is within 18 inches of the wall, per National Electrical Code...

What is code for receptacle outlet spacing?

Monday, March 16, 2020
What is code for receptacle outlet spacing?

The maximum spacing between receptacles is 12 feet, with no point along a wall being more than 6-feet from a receptacle. The logic behind that number is that an appliance with a standard length cord could then be plugged-in anywhere along the wall....

Does a home inspector check ceiling fans?

Sunday, March 15, 2020
Does a home inspector check ceiling fans?

We inspect ceiling fans and all the inspectors we know do it also. But the State of Florida and the two major, national home inspector associations do not mention them—either as requiring inspection or exempt—in their Standards of Practice. If a ceiling...

What are the minimum dimensions of a stair landing?

Sunday, March 15, 2020
What are the minimum dimensions of a stair landing?

A width of a stair landing cannot be less than the width of the stair itself, and the length (in direction of travel) cannot be less than 36 inches, according to the Internation Residential Code (IRC 311.7.6). A landing is required at the top and bottom...

Is a stair nosing required by code?

Sunday, March 15, 2020
Is a stair nosing required by code?

A stair nosing (extension of the tread past the front face of the riser below) is only required when a tread is less than 11 inches, according to the International Residential Code (IRC 311.7.5.3). Since the minimum tread allowed is 10 inches, a nosing...

Do all stair treads have to be the same size?

Sunday, March 15, 2020
Do all stair treads have to be the same size?

"The greatest tread depth within any flight of stairs shall not exceed the smallest by more than 3/8 inch (9.5 mm),” according to the International Residential Code (IRC R311.7.5.2). Go to our blog post The stairs feel too steep. What's the building...

Do all stair risers have to be the same height?

Sunday, March 15, 2020
Do all stair risers have to be the same height?

"The greatest riser height within any flight of stairs shall not exceed the smallest by more than 3/8 inch (9.5 mm),” according to the International Residential Code (IRC 311.7.5.1). Go to our blog post The stairs feel too steep. What's the building...

What is the minimum width of a hallway?

Sunday, March 15, 2020
What is the minimum width of a hallway?

The width of a hallway shall not be less than 3 feet, according to the International Residential Code (IRC R311.6). Also, see our blog post How many electrical receptacle outlets are required in a hallway?

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •...

What is code for stair risers?

Sunday, March 15, 2020
What is code for stair risers?

The maximum riser (vertical part) of a stair is 7-3/4” according to the International Residential Code (IRC R311.7.5.1). Combine that 7-3/4” riser with a 10” minimum tread (horizontal part) and you have the steepest stair allowed by code. However, when...

Do all mobile homes have formaldehyde?

Saturday, March 14, 2020
Do all mobile homes have formaldehyde?

Both mobile homes and site-built homes have construction materials that contain formaldehyde, and both off-gas the formaldehyde during the first few months after placement. But, because a site-built home can take six months to a year from start to move-in...

When did they stop using formaldehyde in mobile homes?

Saturday, March 14, 2020
When did they stop using formaldehyde in mobile homes?

Formaldehyde has never been banned from the manufacture of mobile homes. But the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which has jurisdiction over mobile home construction, began setting standards for the levels of formaldehyde used in...

What is a three-way switch used for?

Saturday, March 14, 2020
What is a three-way switch used for?

A three-way switch enables you to control a ceiling light, or any other electrical fixture, from two separate locations. The most common uses are at the top and bottom of stairs or at two doors to the same room. Unlike regular wall switches, up is not...

What is the difference between neutral and ground wires?

Saturday, March 14, 2020
What is the difference between neutral and ground wires?

The main difference between neutral and ground wires is that a neutral is intended to carry current in a circuit when the circuit is functioning correctly, connecting back to the transformer for 120-volt circuits; while a ground wire only becomes energized...

Are double tapped breakers illegal?

Thursday, March 12, 2020
Are double tapped breakers illegal?

Double tapped breakers are not allowed for most circuit breakers. The exception is some lower-amperage rated breakers made by Square D and Cutler-Hammer (now Eaton). A double tap is two wires secured to a breaker that is only rated to receive one wire...

Frequently Asked Questions About Mobile Home Installation

Thursday, March 12, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions About Mobile Home Installation

Both HUD and the State of Florida have installation standards that must be complied with to have a secure, safe mobile home. Here's a collection of our most-often-asked questions about MOBILE HOME INSTALLATION:
• What are the most common defects...

What is the difference between an electrical fault and a short circuit?

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
What is the difference between an electrical fault and a short circuit?

Fault and short circuit are different words for the same thing: when electricity escapes from its correct circuit route, which often has dangerous consequences. Fault is used more often in the technical language of codes, as in Ground Fault Circuit...

Frequently Asked Questions About Mobile Home Wind Zones

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions About Mobile Home Wind Zones

Here’s links to answers to our most-often-asked questions about MOBILE HOME WIND ZONES:
• What is a Wind Zone for mobile homes?

• What is a Wind Zone 1 mobile home?
• What is a Wind Zone 2 mobile home?
* What is a Wind Zone...

What is a Wind Zone 3 mobile home?

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
What is a Wind Zone 3 mobile home?

A mobile home manufactured for installation in Wind Zone 3 is rated to withstand sustained winds up to 110 mph, which is equivalent to gusts of up to 130 mph. The Department of Housing and Urban Renewal (HUD) has divided the country into four wind zones:...

What is a Wind Zone 2 mobile home?

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
What is a Wind Zone 2 mobile home?

A mobile home manufactured for installation in Wind Zone 2 is rated to withstand sustained winds up to 100 mph, which is equivalent to gusts of up to 120 mph. The Department of Housing and Urban Renewal (HUD) has divided the country into four wind zones:...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Mobile Home Tie Downs?

Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Mobile Home Tie Downs?

HUD has gradually ratcheted up the tie down requirements for mobile home since taking over supervison of their construciton and installation in 1976. The State of Florida further enhanced the standards for mobile homes within the state in 1999, and...

What is an Exposure D mobile home?

Tuesday, March 10, 2020
What is an Exposure D mobile home?

A “Exposure D” manufactured home, also called an “D Sticker,” is a Wind Zone III home on steroids. It has been further strengthened to to meet the wind resistance requirement of ASCE 7-88,  Exposure D—which is a standard referenced in the HUD Code....

Can you plug a surge protector into a two prong outlet?

Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Can you plug a surge protector into a two prong outlet?

While it possible to plug a surge protector power strip into a two prong outlet if you remove the ground prong on the cord or use an adapter (also called a “cheater plug”) at the receptacle outlet, it won’t function properly. The ground prong on the...

What floor level change is a trip hazard?

Sunday, March 8, 2020
What floor level change is a trip hazard?

A trip hazard is defined by the 2010 Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design as any abrupt vertical change in the level of a floor surface of more than 1/4-inch. Broken or lifted sidewalks, or floor slabs that have shifted...

Can you build a deck or patio over a septic tank in Florida?

Sunday, March 8, 2020
Can you build a deck or patio over a septic tank in Florida?

You are allowed to build a deck or patio over a septic tank, but not the drainfield, according to Florida Administrative Code 64E-6.005(2)(a).
    Also, see our blog posts How can I locate my septic tank? and Do I have to get a larger septic tank...

Can you build a home addition over a septic tank in Florida?

Sunday, March 8, 2020
Can you build a home addition over a septic tank in Florida?

No, you cannot build a home addition over a septic tank or drainfield according to Florida Administrative Code 64E-6.005(2): "Systems shall not be located under buildings or within 5 feet of building foundations, including pilings for elevated structures.” 

Do receptacle outlets have to be grounded?

Sunday, March 8, 2020
Do receptacle outlets have to be grounded?

Receptacle outlets have been required to be the grounded, three-slot type since the 1962 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). So any new or replacement receptacle must be three-slot and a have a connection to ground from the round slot at...

What are the signs of a full septic tank?

Sunday, March 8, 2020
What are the signs of a full septic tank?

If you don’t have your septic tank pumped every five years or so as recommended, there are five ways the system itself will tell you when it’s time:
•• Backup - This is the most obvious, classic sign that you have waited too long, and it always...

How close can you build a home addition to a septic tank system in Florida?

Saturday, March 7, 2020
How close can you build a home addition to a septic tank system in Florida?

A septic system cannot be located closer than 5 feet from a house foundation or mobile home. Sidewalks, decks, and patios are not subject to the 5 foot rule, but you cannot put a drainfield under them. Any tank below a driveway must have a lid designed...

Do FHA loans require a home inspection?

Saturday, March 7, 2020
Do FHA loans require a home inspection?

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) does not require a home buyer that is applying for an FHA-insured loan to have a home inspection, however they do expect a buyer to sign a document certifying that they were advised that a home inspection is...

What mobile home wind zone is Florida?

Saturday, March 7, 2020
What mobile home wind zone is Florida?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has divided the country in zones according to the level of windstorm speeds a mobile home is likely to have to endure in each area. Florida has three different wind zones:
Wind Zone 2 -...

What is a Wind Zone 1 mobile home?

Saturday, March 7, 2020
What is a Wind Zone 1 mobile home?

A Wind Zone 1 mobile home is designed to resist winds up to 70 mph, and can be installed pretty much anywhere in America except hurricane-prone areas. So, of course, none of Florida is in Wind Zone 1. The state is divided into Zone 2 in the upper two-thirds,...

What is checked during a wind mitigation inspection?

Saturday, March 7, 2020
What is checked during a wind mitigation inspection?

There are seven different hurricane-resistant construction details of a home that the inspector looks for in a wind mitigation inspection (Form OIR-B1-1802). Few homes have all of them, but most have at least a few. Here’s our analysis of each of the...

Who can perform a wind mitigation inspection in Florida?

Saturday, March 7, 2020
Who can perform a wind mitigation inspection in Florida?

The following Florida-licensed construction professionals are allowed to perform a wind mitigation inspection, and must sign the form and list their type of license and license number:
•• Home Inspector - But only inspectors that have completed...

What is a home inspector not allowed to do?

Friday, March 6, 2020
What is a home inspector not allowed to do?

The basis of the list of things that a home inspector is not allowed to do is that an inspector cannot damage a house in the process of inspecting it. This means he or she shouldn't drill holes in a wall, open sealed compartments, pull up stretched...

What is the average life expectancy of a gas range?

Friday, March 6, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a gas range?

How long does a gas range last?
You can expect a gas range to last about 15 to 22 years, with an average of 18 years. Like any appliance, heavy usage will shorten the life of a range and only occasional use lengthen it. Here’s a graph comparing...

What is the average life expectancy of an electric range?

Friday, March 6, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of an electric range?

How long does an electric range last?
You can expect an electric range to last about 13 to 18 years, with an average of 15 years. Like any appliance, heavy usage will shorten the life of a range and only occasional use lengthen it. Here’s a graph...

Should I tip the home inspector?

Friday, March 6, 2020
Should I tip the home inspector?

You can tip a home inspector if want; but, unlike movers or appliance delivery men, it is not standard or expected. We occasionally get offered a tip by an appreciative customer and try to gracefully decline it and, if the client insists, we accept....

What is the average life expectancy of a garbage disposal?

Thursday, March 5, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a garbage disposal?

How long does a garbage disposal last?
You can expect a disposal to last about 10 to 14 years, with an average of 12 years. But the lifespan will be shortened if you put things down the disposal that it is not equipped to handle, such as grease,...

What is the average life expectancy of a dishwasher?

Thursday, March 5, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a dishwasher?

How long does a dishwasher last?
You can expect a dishwasher to last about 8 to 15 years, with an average of 11 years. Like any appliance, heavy usage will shorten it life and only occasional usage will lengthen it—except a dishwasher that is unused...

What is the average life expectancy of a refrigerator?

Thursday, March 5, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a refrigerator?

How long does a refrigerator last?
You can expect a refrigerator to last about 10 to 18 years, with an average of 14 years. Here’s a graph comparing refrigerator life expectancy to other major home appliances. Here’s a graph comparing refrigerator...

KITCHENS

Thursday, March 5, 2020
KITCHENS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about KITCHENS: 
• How does a home inspector inspect a refrigerator ice maker?  
• Does a refrigerator water supply line require a shutoff valve behind it? 
• Why is it important to use cabinet...

Does a home inspector check the clothes dryer?

Thursday, March 5, 2020
Does a home inspector check the clothes dryer?

Whether or not an inspector is required to test the dryer depends of which Standards of Practice they are following. Florida licensed home inspectors must comply with state statute 61-30.807, which requires that inspectors test appliances. Here’s what...

Does a home inspector check the washing machine?

Thursday, March 5, 2020
Does a home inspector check the washing machine?

Whether or not an inspector is required to test the washer depends of which Standards of Practice they are following. Florida licensed home inspectors must comply with state statute 61-30.807, which requires that inspectors test appliances. Here’s what...

Does a home inspector check the refrigerator?

Thursday, March 5, 2020
Does a home inspector check the refrigerator?

Whether or not an inspector is required to check the refrigerator depends of which Standards of Practice they are following. Florida licensed home inspectors must comply with state statute 61-30.807, which requires that inspectors test appliances. Here’s...

Does a home inspector check the kitchen range or cooktop?

Thursday, March 5, 2020
Does a home inspector check the kitchen range or cooktop?

Whether or not an inspector is required to test the range depends of which Standards of Practice they are following. Florida licensed home inspectors must comply with state statute 61-30.807, which requires that inspectors test appliances. Here’s what...

Does a home inspector check the dishwasher?

Thursday, March 5, 2020
Does a home inspector check the dishwasher?

Whether or not an inspector is required to test the dishwasher depends of which Standards of Practice they are following. Florida licensed home inspectors must comply with state statute 61-30.807, which requires that inspectors test appliances. Here’s...

Does a home inspector check the landscape sprinkler system?

Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Does a home inspector check the landscape sprinkler system?

Home inspectors in Florida are not required to examine or test the sprinkler system according to the Florida Administrative Code’s Standards of Practice for Home Inspectors at 61-30.806(3)(f). The standards of the International Association of Certified...

What is a HUD Park Model?

Wednesday, March 4, 2020
What is a HUD Park Model?

A HUD Park Model is built under the HUD standards for mobile homes, can be up to 500 square feet, and may be licensed as a recreational vehicle (RV) in Florida only. It must meet the hurricane wind load standard (either Zone 2 or Zone 3) for where it...

What is the average life expectancy of a shower pan liner?

Wednesday, March 4, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a shower pan liner?

How long does a shower pan liner last?
You can expect a shower pan liner to last 40 to 50 years, with an average of 45 years. It’s important the the liner to be installed correctly on a sloped mortar bed or use a pre-slope base for a long life....

Can you splice wires in an electrical panel?

Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Can you splice wires in an electrical panel?

Wire splices can be done inside a panel, and often are necessary to repair a double-tap at a breaker (two wires under one breaker connection) using a short wire called a “pigtail,” extend wires that are a little too short when a panel is replaced, or...

WASHERS AND DRYERS

Tuesday, March 3, 2020
WASHERS AND DRYERS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about WASHERS AND DRYERS:  
• What are the most common problems with washing machine installation and maintenance?
• Is a washing machine drain hose required to be secured at the standpipe? 

What is the average life expectancy of a washing machine?

Tuesday, March 3, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a washing machine?

How long does a washing machine last?
You can expect a washing machine to last about 9 to 16 years, with an average of 12 years. Like any appliance, heavy usage will shorten its life. Here’s a graph that compares washing machine life expectancy...

Is mobile home skirting really necessary?

Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Is mobile home skirting really necessary?

Mobile home skirting is definitely necessary for multiple reasons:
1) Most insurance companies will not insure a home without skirting.
2) Most building departments require skirting as part of a permitted installation.
3) It gives the...

What is a cool roof made of?

Monday, March 2, 2020
What is a cool roof made of?

A cool roof is not made of a particular material. It is a designation given to roof materials that reflect more sunlight (solar reflectance) and absorb less heat (thermal emittance) than an ordinary roof. Cool roofs can be metal, TPO or EPDM plastic,...

Why are there no ceiling lights in some rooms?

Monday, March 2, 2020
Why are there no ceiling lights in some rooms?

Although a switched light is required in most rooms of a house, a switch connected to a wall receptacle for plugging in a lamp is allowed as an alternative in all habitable rooms of a house, except kitchens and bathrooms, which need to have the switch...

How do I tell the age of a GSW water heater from the serial number?

Monday, March 2, 2020
How do I tell the age of a GSW water heater from the serial number?

The first two numbers in the serial number are the year of manufacture, and the third and fourth numbers are the month for GSW water heaters. There may, or may not be, an initial letter before the numbers. For example, a serial number U1310372185 means...

What is the average life expectancy of a landscape sprinkler system?

Monday, March 2, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a landscape sprinkler system?

How long does a sprinkler system last?
You can expect a landscape sprinkler system to last about 20 years. Although the underground pipes can remain functional for 40 years or more, most of the other components of the system, including the control...

What is the average life expectancy of a termite ground treatment?

Monday, March 2, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a termite ground treatment?

How long does a termite ground treatment last?
Most termite ground treatments remain effective for 10 years or more, depending on the chemical used, although a few are only good for about 5 years. Soil treatments can be applied in the entire area...

Why are Challenger electrical panels not insurable?

Sunday, March 1, 2020
Why are Challenger electrical panels not insurable?

Challenger brand electrical panels were installed in homes from the 1970s through 1990s, with last production in 1994. But they have since been found to have a defect that causes the bus bars to overheat under normal operating conditions. The overheating...

What is the average life expectancy of a kitchen range hood fan?

Sunday, March 1, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a kitchen range hood fan?

How long does a kitchen range hood fan last?
You can expect a range hood to last between 12 and 18 years, with an average of 15 years. Like any appliance the variables that will affect longevity are quality of the appliance and maintenance. More...

What is the average life expectancy of a bathroom exhaust fan?

Sunday, March 1, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a bathroom exhaust fan?

How long does a bathroom exhaust fan last?
You can expect a bathroom exhaust fan to last 9 to 12 years, with an average of 10 years. They do require cleaning annually, using a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment, to remove the dust accumulation...

What is the average life expectancy of a micowave oven?

Sunday, March 1, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a micowave oven?

How long does a microwave oven last?
You can expect a microwave oven to last about 7 to 9 years, with an average of 8 years. Heavy use, such as by college students or a large family to heat up meals and snacks, will shorten the life expectancy....

What is the code minimum ceiling height in a laundry room?

Sunday, March 1, 2020
What is the code minimum ceiling height in a laundry room?

Laundry rooms must have a minimum ceiling height of 6 feet 8 inches. Where the ceiling is sloped, such as under a stairs, there are exemptions and two other parameters you have to work within, based on the Residential Edition of the Florida Building...

What is the code minimum ceiling height in a bathroom?

Sunday, March 1, 2020
What is the code minimum ceiling height in a bathroom?

Bathrooms must have a minimum ceiling height of 6 feet 8 inches. Where the ceiling is sloped, such as under a stairs, because the toilet fits in at the low side of the sloped ceiling under the stairs, the vertical clearance in front of it is the primary...

Can I replace my own roof in Florida?

Sunday, March 1, 2020
Can I replace my own roof in Florida?

Homeowner may pull a permit to act as their own contractor to replace their home roof under an exemption in Florida Statute 489.103(7)(a). There is a not limitation on the types of roofing that can be installed, although the most popular homeowner reroof...

What is the code for bathroom ventilation?

Sunday, March 1, 2020
What is the code for bathroom ventilation?

You can opt for natural ventilation, with a window having a minimum area of three square feet and half of it openable, or provide artificial light and ventilation via a switched exhaust fan rated at a minimum of 50 cfm (cubic feet per minute) or a continuous...

Do you need a permit to repair a roof in Florida?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
Do you need a permit to repair a roof in Florida?

Minor roof repairs do not require a permit in Florida. Unfotunately, the definition of a "minor roof repair" is left up to the local building official, and it varies from one jurisdiction to another. Most building officials consider a minor roof repair...

What is the average life expectancy of a wood deck structure?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a wood deck structure?

How long does a wood deck structure last?
You can expect the wood joists and beams under wood decking to last 20 to 30 years, with an average of 25 years. which can be 50% to as much as double the life of the decking. The life of the deck structure...

What is the average life expectancy of composite wood decking?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of composite wood decking?

How long does composite wood decking last?
You can expect composite wood decking to last 20 to 30 years, with an average of 25 years.  Here’s a graph that compares composite decking life expectancy to other deck/patio materials.    Composite deck...

At what height is a railing required for a porch?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
At what height is a railing required for a porch?

Any open-sided walking surface on a porch that is more than 30-inches above any point within 36-inches away from the edge of it requires a guardrail that has a minimum height of 36-inches. The openings in the railing pickets should not allow a 4-inch...

At what height is a railing required for a deck?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
At what height is a railing required for a deck?

Any open-sided walking surface on a deck that is more than 30-inches above any point within 24-inches away from the edge of it requires a guardrail that has a minimum height of 36-inches, per International Residential Code (R312.1.1). The openings in...

How much space is necessary for a toilet between a vanity and shower?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
How much space is necessary for a toilet between a vanity and shower?

The minimum requirement is 30 inches between shower and vanity, with the toilet centered in the space, and 21 inches between the front of the bowl and opposite wall, per International Residential Code [IRC P2705.1(5) and R305.1(2)]. There must also...

How many lumens are required at stairs in a home?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
How many lumens are required at stairs in a home?

The International Residential Code (IRC R303.7) specifies one footcandle of light as measured at the center of treads and landings as a minimum for interior stairs. One footcandle (fc) equals one lumen per square foot (lm/sq²). The code requires exterior...

Who can certify a roof in Florida?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
Who can certify a roof in Florida?

The following building construction professionals, if licensed in Florida, can do a roof inspection and complete a “Roof Condition Certification Form.” This form is often requested by insurance companies as a prerequisite to issuing a policy for a home...

Do modular homes depreciate in value?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
Do modular homes depreciate in value?

A modular home is manufactured and installed to the same building code standards as a site-built home in the same location and is installed on a permanent foundation. It is essentially the same as a site-built home except that it is constructed in a...

Is a hip roof stronger than a gable roof?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
Is a hip roof stronger than a gable roof?

A hip roof slopes inward on all sides. It is stronger than a gable roof in hurricane resistance because it doesn’t have a triangular gable end wall that often fails under the pressure of high winds. Also, hip roofs are self-bracing. Shown below is the...

When did they stop using cast iron pipe in houses?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
When did they stop using cast iron pipe in houses?

Cast iron was used extensively for DWV (drain-waste-vent) piping until the mid-1970s, when PVC pipe became widely available and accepted by plumbers. Corrosion was the main problem. It is still an available and approved pipe in the building codes, and...

When did they stop using copper pipe in houses?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
When did they stop using copper pipe in houses?

Copper pipe rose in popularity in the 1970s, surpassing galvanized steel for water pipe, and become the “gold standard” for quality pipe in that era. But problems with pinhole leaks and the arrival of the newer plastic pipes in the market caused a gradual...

What color metal roof is best?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
What color metal roof is best?

The best color is the one your spouse wants, unless energy efficiency is a major concern, then a white metal roof is an ideal choice because it reflects the heat back into the atmosphere to keep your attic cooler in the summer and reduce the air conditioning...

When is a nosing required on a stair tread?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
When is a nosing required on a stair tread?

A nosing (extension of the tread leading edge past face of riser below it) is required for stair treads less than 11 inches in depth to create a minimum tread surface of at least 11 inches (IRC 311.7.5.3). Since the minimum tread depth by code is 10...

What is the minimum step depth (tread) allowed on a stair?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
What is the minimum step depth (tread) allowed on a stair?

The depth of a stair tread should not be less than 10 inches, measured vertically between the leading edges of adjacent treads, according to the International Residential Code (IRC 311.7.5.2). The maximum allowable varitation in tread depth is 3/8 inch.

What is the maximum height of a step (riser) on a stair?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
What is the maximum height of a step (riser) on a stair?

The maximum height of a riser is 7-3/4 inches according to the International Residential Code (IRC 311.7.5.1), as measured between the leading edges of adjacent treads. Also, the maximum allowable variation between riser heights is 3/8 inch. Also, see...

How many stairs before you need a landing?

Saturday, February 29, 2020
How many stairs before you need a landing?

The maximum distance between stair landings allowed by the International Residential Code (IRC) is not based on the number of steps/risers. It is a maximum of 147” (12’-3”) vertical rise  between floor levels or intermediate landings.

 •...

Is it okay to put plywood flooring in an attic?

Friday, February 28, 2020
Is it okay to put plywood flooring in an attic?

Installing plywood flooring in the attic is an easy homeowner upgrade that allows for more attic storage without the possibility of heavier items damaging the ceiling below. We recommend using 1/2” CDX plywood. There are, however, three potential problems...

Can I replace an old two-slot (not grounded) recptacle outlet with another two-slot receptacle by code?

Friday, February 28, 2020
Can I replace an old two-slot (not grounded) recptacle outlet with another two-slot receptacle by code?

You can replace a two-slot (ungrounded) receptacle with another two-slot receptacle if you want. It is allowed by the National Electrical Code [406.4(D)(2)]. There are actually three options you have for receptacle replacement when the circuit does...

What locations are exempt from the tamper resistant receptacle requirement by code?

Friday, February 28, 2020
What locations are exempt from the tamper resistant receptacle requirement by code?

Tamper resistant receptacles have been mandated by the National Electrical Code (NEC) since 2008, with several locations exempted from the requirement. Here is the exceptions list from the 2017 edition of the NEC at 406.12:
1) Receptacles located...

When did tamper resistant receptacle outlets become required by code?

Friday, February 28, 2020
When did tamper resistant receptacle outlets become required by code?

Tamper resistant receptacles were first required by the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). They are recognizable by the “TR” embossed on the face at the plug insertion area, and the closure shutter that obstructs the opening in the...

How do you test for GFCI protection at an ungrounded receptacle outlet?

Friday, February 28, 2020
How do you test for GFCI protection at an ungrounded receptacle outlet?

If you are testing a GFCI receptacle outlet on an ungrounded (two wire) circuit, you can simply push the test button to verify that the GFCI is functional, and it will trip if working properly. But, to verify that other ungrounded (two slot) receptacles...

Does GFCI still work on an ungrounded receptacle outlet?

Thursday, February 27, 2020
Does GFCI still work on an ungrounded receptacle outlet?

Yes, a GFCI at an ungrounded receptacle will still trip under a ground fault, and it will protect any other receptacles downstream in the circuit. The test button will also work to verify that the GFCI is functioning properly, but the receptacle should...

Why won’t my plug go into the outlet in my new home?

Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Why won’t my plug go into the outlet in my new home?

Why The Receptacle Outlet is Hard To Plug Into
New homes are required to have tamper proof receptacles, which are designed to keep children from sticking small objects in the slots; but end up also being adult-proof if you don’t know how they function....

Is a home inspector allowed to open an electrical panel?

Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Is a home inspector allowed to open an electrical panel?

Not only are inspectors allowed to open the electrical panel as part of a home inspection, they are required to do so in Florida. The State of Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Standards of Practice for Home Inspection, that...

How often is the Florida Building Code updated?

Wednesday, February 26, 2020
How often is the Florida Building Code updated?

The Florida Building Code (FBC) is revised every three years. The first edition was in 2002, and the most recent one is 2020.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 
Here’s links to a collection of some of our other blog posts...

What is the difference between a material defect and a cosmetic defect in a home inspection?

Wednesday, February 26, 2020
What is the difference between a material defect and a cosmetic defect in a home inspection?

One of the dictionary definitions of the word “material,” when used as an adjective, is “having real importance or great consequences.” And that's the meaning describing a defect in a home when part of an inspection report.
    The International...

Is an air admittance valve (AAV) illegal by code?

Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Is an air admittance valve (AAV) illegal by code?

Air admittance valves are approved by the International Residential Code (IRC), which is used in most areas of the country with only minor modifications, but not code approved in a few jurisdictions. One is shown above, and they are designed to open...

Can I put a GFCI receptacle at the middle or end of a circuit?

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Can I put a GFCI receptacle at the middle or end of a circuit?

You can place a GFCI receptacle anywhere along the middle of the circuit, but it will only protect other receptacles downstream—not any non-GFCI receptacles between it and the panel. And a GFCI receptacle outlet at the last outlet in a circuit will...

Does a shower light need to be GFCI protected by code?

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Does a shower light need to be GFCI protected by code?

Although the National Electrical Code (NEC) does not have a requirement for a light over a shower or bathtub to be GFCI protected, it is often specified by the manufacturer in the installation instructions. This is probably because it is required by...

Does a bathroom exhaust fan need to be GFCI protected by code?

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Does a bathroom exhaust fan need to be GFCI protected by code?

Although the National Electrical Code (NEC) does not have a requirement for a bathroom exhaust fan to be GFCI protected, it is often specified by the manufacturer in the installation instructions when the fan is over a tub or shower. This is probably...

Can GFCI and AFCI be on the same circuit?

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Can GFCI and AFCI be on the same circuit?

Yes, GFCI and AFCI can be on the same circuit. In fact, some circuits are now required to have both. Kitchens and laundry rooms were added to the list of circuits required to have AFCI protection in the 2014 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC),...

Can a modular home be moved?

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Can a modular home be moved?

Just about any home can be moved by a professional house mover, even a slab-on-grade home. A modular is definitely easier than a site-built home, but not as simple as moving a manufactured/mobile home—which is built on a steel undercarriage, and attachment...

Are home inspections a public record?

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Are home inspections a public record?

Most home inspection contracts have a clause in them similar to the one we use in ours: "The inspection and report are performed and prepared for the sole, confidential, and exclusive use and possession of the Client.” The inspector does not provide...

What radon level is dangerous?

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
What radon level is dangerous?

The level of 4.0 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) or more of home indoor air is considered dangerous by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and needs lowering, but it is only a recommendation and not a federally enforced requirement....

What is a wind mitigation discount?

Friday, February 21, 2020
What is a wind mitigation discount?

The State of Florida requires insurance companies to give discounts on the windstorm portion of your homeowner’s insurance for hurricane-resistant construction features of your home. The discounts are called Wind Mitigation Credits and are deducted...

How long does a wind mitigation inspection remain valid?

Friday, February 21, 2020
How long does a wind mitigation inspection remain valid?

A wind mitigation inspection report is good for five years from the date of inspection for any hurricane-resistant discounts that were documented, as long as there have been no material changes to the home’s structure.
    Also see our blog post...

What is the modular home building code?

Friday, February 21, 2020
What is the modular home building code?

There is no national building code for modular homes that is comparable to the HUD-code that is the standard for manufactured/mobile homes. A modular home must meet the same code standards as a site-built home for the area where it will be located,...

What are the exhaust fan requirements for a mobile home kitchen?

Thursday, February 20, 2020
What are the exhaust fan requirements for a mobile home kitchen?

Each time the kitchen is used for cooking, it generates humidity and odors that need to be exhausted outside to maintain a healthy indoor environment. HUD did not require mechanical ventilation of kitchens until the 1994 update of the HUD-code, but...

What are the exhaust fan requirements for a mobile home bathroom?

Thursday, February 20, 2020
What are the exhaust fan requirements for a mobile home bathroom?

Every time a bathroom is used, it generates humidity and odors that need to be exhausted outside to maintain a healthy indoor environment. HUD did not require mechanical ventilation of baths until the 1994 update of the HUD-code, but most manufacturers...

Do exterior receptacle outlets need to be on a separate circuit?

Thursday, February 20, 2020
Do exterior receptacle outlets need to be on a separate circuit?

Exterior receptacles do not have to be on a separate circuit but, because they must be GFCI-protected and one GFCI-receptacle at the first outlet in the circuit will protect all the others downstream, builders often tie the exterior receptacles to a...

Do outdoor receptacle outlets need to be covered?

Thursday, February 20, 2020
Do outdoor receptacle outlets need to be covered?

All exterior receptacle outlets need to be covered for protection from rain and moisture. The National Electrical Code (NEC 406.9) separates the requirement into two categories:
1) Damp locations - Where the receptacle is in a location that is...

Can ground attached to neutral fool a receptacle tester?

Thursday, February 20, 2020
Can ground attached to neutral fool a receptacle tester?

A receptacle ground slot connected to the neutral wire is termed a false ground, although electricians routinely call it a “bootleg ground” or “cheated ground.” Unfortunately, it will trick a three-light tester into confirming that a receptacle is grounded...

Do all mobile homes have HUD tags?

Friday, February 14, 2020
Do all mobile  homes have HUD tags?

All manufactured homes leave the factory with at least one HUD tag. It’s also called a “red tag,” and the official HUD moniker is “HUD label.” There is one on each section of a double- or triple-wide, each with different but consecutive numbers. 

How do I find out what was on a previous home inspection report?

Friday, February 14, 2020
How do I find out what was on a previous home inspection report?

You can ask the seller or the seller’s realtor for a copy of the previous inspection report, but they may not have it. Some homebuyers do not release the report, and others share only a few items verbally, or nothing, with the other side of the deal...

Can you run exposed NM-cable (Romex) in a garage?

Thursday, February 13, 2020
Can you run exposed NM-cable (Romex) in a garage?

Exposed NM, NMC and NMS cable are allowed to be run in “one- and two-family dwellings, their attached or detached garages, and their storage buildings” by the National Electrical Code (NEC 334.10 and 334.15). It must “closely follow the surface of the...

What is the best location for a water heater in a house?

Thursday, February 13, 2020
What is the best location for a water heater in a house?

The warning label shown above from the side of a water heater tells you the most important thing you need to know about where to install a water heater: “this water heater, as all water heaters, will eventually leak.” So the best place to locate your...

What causes brick to crumble?

Thursday, February 13, 2020
What causes brick to crumble?

Both brick and mortar joints deteriorate over time, and repointing mortar for an older brick wall is to be expected. But each other type of damage has a specific cause:
•• Freeze damage happens when water saturates the pores of the brick near the...

Is radon testing required for houses in Florida?

Thursday, February 13, 2020
Is radon testing required for houses in Florida?

Radon testing is recommended, but not required, for private homes in Florida. However, when a residence is used as a facility for 24-hour care, such as a group home, testing is required. Radon testing requirements for family foster homes vary by county,...

How many receptacle outlets can go on a kitchen small appliance circuit?

Thursday, February 13, 2020
How many receptacle outlets can go on a kitchen small appliance circuit?

The requirement for two 20-amp circuits serving "the small appliance load in kitchen, laundry, pantry, family room, dining room and breakfast room of dwelling occupancies”  has been around since the 1959 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC),...

How long must a wall space be to require a receptacle outlet?

Wednesday, February 12, 2020
How long must a wall space be to require a receptacle outlet?

Any wall space 2-feet long or more must have a receptacle, and the length measurement continues along any change in direction of a continuous wall. The maximum spacing between receptacles, according to the National Electric Code [NEC 210.52(a)(1)],...

Which rooms in a house require switched lights per code?

Sunday, February 9, 2020
Which rooms in a house require switched lights per code?

The basic requirement is at least one wall switched light should be installed in every habitable room, kitchen, and bathroom, according to the National Electrical Code [NEC 210.70(A)(1)]. In rooms other than kitchens and bathrooms, one or more receptacles...

Can you put a receptacle outlet in a closet?

Sunday, February 9, 2020
Can you put a receptacle outlet in a closet?

Yes, you can put a receptacle outlet in a closet, but it is not required by code. Also, if you do put a receptacle in closet, it must be AFCI-protected. For full details, see our blog posts What is the code requirement for receptacle outlets in a closet? and...

Are lights required in closets?

Sunday, February 9, 2020
Are lights required in closets?

Switched lighting is required by the National Electrical Code [NEC 210.70(A)(1)] in “every habitable room, kitchen, and bathroom.” Since a closet is not defined as habitable in the codes, a light is not code-required—but certainly a good idea for larger...

What is the definition of a habitable space in the building code?

Sunday, February 9, 2020
What is the definition of a habitable space in the building code?

The International Residential Code (IRC) defines a habitable space as “a space in a building for living, sleeping, eating or cooking. Bathrooms, toilet rooms, closets, halls, storage or utility spaces and similar areas are not considered habitable spaces.” 

Is tinned copper wire safe?

Saturday, February 8, 2020
Is tinned copper wire safe?

A tin coating has been applied to copper for many years for corrosion prevention, especially in humid environments. It is still manufactured today for marine applications, but we only see tinned copper during home inspections of some mid-20th century...

When did they stop using aluminum wiring?

Friday, February 7, 2020
When did they stop using aluminum wiring?

Aluminum wiring has never stopped being used. Only a particular type of smaller-gauge single-strand aluminum is no longer available for residential wiring. It was substituted for copper from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s because the price of copper...

Should the ground slot of a receptacle outlet be on the top or bottom?

Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Should the ground slot of a receptacle outlet be on the top or bottom?

The National Electrical Code (NEC) does not specify which way the ground slot should be oriented, and there is a somewhat logical explanation for putting it on top. If a piece of metal drops down onto a slightly-loose cord plugged into a ground-slot-up...

How many receptacle outlets are required in a bedroom?

Wednesday, February 5, 2020
How many receptacle outlets are required in a bedroom?

There is no minimum number of receptacle outlets specified for bedrooms in the code. The requirement is based on spacing along the wall and the maximum space between receptacles, according to the National Electric Code [NEC 210.52(a)(1)], has been set...

What is code for receptacle outlet spacing?

Wednesday, February 5, 2020
What is code for receptacle outlet spacing?

The maximum spacing between receptacles, according to the National Electric Code [NEC 210.52(a)(1)], has been set at 12-feet since 1956—with no point along a wall being more than 6-feet from a receptacle, and any wall 2-feet long or more must have a...

When should I replace my galvanized steel pipes?

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
When should I replace my galvanized steel pipes?

The average lifespan of galvanized steel water supply pipe is 40 to 60 years. Galvanized pipe was gradually phased out of new construction during the 1960s and not used at all for new homes by the mid-1970s. So any galvanized pipe still in place is...

Can termites eat through siding?

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Can termites eat through siding?

Termites can munch their way through wood siding, of course, but other siding materials are not a problem for them either. Two termites will fit easily on the tip of a match and they can fit through an opening as small as 1/32” wide, so termites just...

When was two 20-amp circuits for kitchen small appliances first required?

Monday, February 3, 2020
When was two 20-amp circuits for kitchen small appliances first required?

The requirement for two 20-amp circuits serving "the small appliance load in kitchen, laundry, pantry, family room, dining room and breakfast room of dwelling occupancies”  first entered the National Electrical Code (NEC) in the 1959 edition.
...

When was the current spacing for kitchen counter receptacles first required?

Monday, February 3, 2020
When was the current spacing for kitchen counter receptacles first required?

Here’s the progression of the current requirement in Article 210 of the National Electrical Code (NEC):
•• 1959 NEC - The requirement for minimum of two 20-amp branch circuits serving "the small appliance load in kitchen, laundry, pantry, family...

What is the six breaker throw rule?

Monday, February 3, 2020
What is the six breaker throw rule?

The “six breaker throw rule” was a requirement in the National Electrical Code that a service must have have a main disconnect that shuts off all power and it cannot take more than six switch throws to do it, and the main disconnect(s) also must be...

Does a subpanel require a main breaker by code?

Sunday, February 2, 2020
Does a subpanel require a main breaker by code?

The means of disconnection for a subpanel is provided by a breaker serving it in the service (main) panel, so an additional breaker at the subpanel is not necessary. But you can put a main breaker at a subpanel if you want. The National Electrical Code...

Is a roof inspection mandatory in Florida for insurance?

Saturday, February 1, 2020
Is a roof inspection mandatory in Florida for insurance?

Not all homes, but ones with an older roof will need a roof inspection by a licensed home inspector or roofer to renew or get new homeowner’s insurance. Citizen’s Insurance of Florida requires a roof inspection report that verifies at least three years...

Is a four-point inspection mandatory in Florida for insurance?

Saturday, February 1, 2020
Is a four-point inspection mandatory in Florida for insurance?

Not all homes, but most older homes will need a four point inspection by a licensed home inspector to get insurance in Florida. For example, one of the largest insurance companies in Florida, Citizens Insurance, requires a four-point inspection report...

Is it legal to make part of a garage into a bedroom?

Saturday, February 1, 2020
Is it legal to make part of a garage into a bedroom?

While it is possible to make part of a garage into a bedroom, there are a couple of life-safety requirements in the building code that make it more complicated than enclosing a porch, for example. It is probably easier to convert the whole garage into...

Does every receptacle outlet in a kitchen have to be GFCI?

Saturday, February 1, 2020
Does every receptacle outlet in a kitchen have to be GFCI?

Only receptacle outlets that are "installed to serve the countertop surfaces” in a kitchen must be GFCI-protected in a residence, per National Electrical Code [NEC 210.8(A)(6)]. For buildings other than dwellings, all receptacles in a kitchen must be...

Why is cloth wiring considered dangerous by insurance companies?

Friday, January 31, 2020
Why is cloth wiring considered dangerous by insurance companies?

Cloth wiring can catch fire if the wires overheat. Newer wiring has thermoplastic insulation rated for heat up to 90º C (194º F). But there are two types of the older cloth-sheathed wiring and only one is less acceptable than the other. To learn more,...

Is all cloth wiring dangerous?

Friday, January 31, 2020
Is all cloth wiring dangerous?

Electrical wiring insulation has gone through multiple upgrades over the years, primarily for fire resistance. Wiring up until the mid-20th century was insulated with rubber embedded with cloth, which some electricians call “rag wiring.” The material...

Why is some PVC pipe black?

Thursday, January 30, 2020
Why is some PVC pipe black?

The “black PVC” actually a different plastic pipe called ABS, which stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. ABS is only rated for drain piping within the home, and not for water supply. It can be interconnected with the white PVC with a slip fitting,...

What is a combination arc fault circuit interrupter (CAFCI)?

Thursday, January 30, 2020
What is a combination arc fault circuit interrupter (CAFCI)?

A combination AFCI is an improved version of the original AFCI, and replaced it as a requirement in the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). The original AFCI only provided protection against parallel arcing (between hot and neutral,...

What is the average life expectancy of roof sheathing?

Thursday, January 30, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of roof sheathing?

How long does roof sheathing last?
You can expect the wood roof sheathing of a home to last 100+ years. Although it should last for the life of the home, roof sheathing lifespan can be shortened by moisture penetrating it from both above and below....

How far does a water heater have to be from an electrical panel?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
How far does a water heater have to be from an electrical panel?

An electrical panel is required to have a clear area in front of it that is 30-inches wide by 36-inches deep and 78-inches high for service, per National Electrical Code [NEC 110.26 (A)(1)]. The 30-inch width in front of the panel does not have to be...

How far away does a dryer have to be from an electrical panel?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
How far away does a dryer have to be from an electrical panel?

Nothing is allowed to be installed in a working space 2’-6” wide by 3’-0” deep by 6’-6” high in front of an electric panel, per National Electrical Code [NEC 110.26 (A)(1)]. That includes a washer, clothes dryer, water heater, pool equipment, water...

How far away does a washing machine have to be from an electrical panel?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
How far away does a washing machine have to be from an electrical panel?

Nothing is allowed to be installed in a working space 2’-6” wide by 3’-0” deep by 6’-6” high in front of an electric panel, per National Electrical Code [NEC 110.26 (A)(1)]. That includes a washer, clothes dryer, water heater, pool equipment, water...

What is the gray water pipe called?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
What is the gray water pipe called?

Polybutylene is a gray plastic pipe that was used in residential construction from the 1978 through 1995, when manufacture was discontinued due to numerous leakage problems and lawsuits. It is also called “PB.” Although gray is the most common color,...

What types of pipes are used in mobile homes?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
What types of pipes are used in mobile homes?

Plastic pipes have been the common in mobile homes since the mid-1980s, including CPVC, PVC, PB, ABS and, more recently, PEX. These are all acronyms for the much longer names, which are the chemical compositions of the pipes, and you can read about...

When was polybutylene pipe banned?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
When was polybutylene pipe banned?

Because of numerous leakage problems and lawsuits against the manufacturers, polybutylene pipe (PB) manufacture was stopped after 1995. It is no longer an approved pipe for water supply or distribution by the building codes, although approval was not...

What is the small pipe on the side of the house that is dripping water?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
What is the small pipe on the side of the house that is dripping water?

That pipe coming out of lower part of the wall of your home, or coming up from the ground near the wall, could be any one of these three things:
1) Temperature and Pressure Relief (TPR) discharge pipe for water heater - The TPR valve at the side...

Does the building code apply to mobile homes?

Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Does the building code apply to mobile homes?

Although the Florida Building Code (FBC) has specific requirements for manufactured buildings, it excludes mobile homes from that category, and the manufacture of mobile homes is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development...

What is the minimum size for attic access opening?

Tuesday, January 28, 2020
What is the minimum size for attic access opening?

The rough opening cannot be less than 22 inches by 30 inches and must be located in a hallway or other readily accessible location. If the opening is located in a wall, the 30 inch dimension must be vertical. If the access is located in the ceiling,...

How long after the home inspection does the buyer have to back out?

Monday, January 27, 2020
How long after the home inspection does the buyer have to back out?

It all depends on the number of days in the inspection period that was agreed to in your real estate sales contract and, secondarily, how many days are left in it after you have received your inspection report. Typical inspection periods are 7 or 14...

What is the difference between single-phase and three-phase electric service?

Monday, January 27, 2020
What is the difference between single-phase and three-phase electric service?

Single phase electric service is what comes into virtually all homes. The service has two hot wires that are cycling through the same phase but in opposition, as shown in the diagram below. One leg produces 120-volt current and the two legs together...

What is the minimum clearance under an electrical service drip loop of a house?

Sunday, January 26, 2020

There are two minimum clearance dimensions: 1) from the drip loop to the ground when it is not over the roof, and 2) drip loop to roof surface when over the roof. When the drip loop is over the ground, it must be a minimum of 10’-0” above the grade,...

Where is AFCI required for outlets in a house?

Sunday, January 26, 2020
Where is AFCI required for outlets in a house?

Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter protection is required at outlets in all "kitchens, family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, laundry areas, or similar rooms,” per the...

How many deaths each year are caused by radon?

Sunday, January 26, 2020
How many deaths each year are caused by radon?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year, and about 2,900 of those deaths occur among people who have never smoked. Other sources estimate the death rate as a range...

What are the code requirements for light fixtures in a closet?

Sunday, January 26, 2020
What are the code requirements for light fixtures in a closet?

Closets are often packed to the ceiling with flammable clothes and boxes, so the International Residential Code (IRC) and National Electrical Code (NEC) set a number of fire safety standards for “luminaires”—the term used to indicate light fixtures...

Do high winds affect radon levels?

Saturday, January 25, 2020
Do high winds affect radon levels?

High winds can either raise or lower the flow of underground radon gas into a home, depending on the direction of the wind and the shape of the home, although they are more likely to raise the radon level. To understand why, it helps to know about the...

Does barometric pressure change radon levels?

Saturday, January 25, 2020
Does barometric pressure change radon levels?

Barometric pressure is simply the weight of the air in the atmosphere pressing down on the earth. A decrease in barometric pressure, from an oncoming thunderstorm for example, will immediately increase the flow of radon gas from the ground. It is one...

Does heavy rain change radon levels?

Friday, January 24, 2020
Does heavy rain change radon levels?

Yes, a rainstorm can elevate the radon levels in a home temporarily, which is why radon testing for a real estate transaction is not recommended during a storm or if one is expected during the test period. There are two ways that heavy rain can raise...

Can a drain pipe have too much slope?

Thursday, January 23, 2020
Can a drain pipe have too much slope?

The ideal drain pipe slope is 1/4” per foot, which is also the minimum per code for pipes 2-1/2” diameter or less. This incline allows the water to move slowly enough to float the solids along with it, and fast enough to scour the pipe walls. But when...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Brick

Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Brick

Brick is popular throughout Florida as both a building block and a siding material. Nearby Ocala, Florida, is nicknamed “Brick City” because it was rebuilt with brick after a Thanksgiving Day fire in 1883 that destroyed all the wooden structures in...

How can I tell if a water heater is 240-volt or 120-volt?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020
How can I tell if a water heater is 240-volt or 120-volt?

Most tank-type water heaters change from 120-volts to 240-volts at around the 20-gallon size. But there are some exceptions both sides of that line, so you should check the data plate on the side of the tank, like the example above. There is also the...

What causes mortar cracks?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020
What causes mortar cracks?

Mortar is designed to be slightly weaker structurally than the masonry it is bonding. This goes for all types of masonry, including brick, concrete block, or stone, and the logic behind it is that any cracks caused by movement in the wall are easier...

Are two layers of shingles better than one?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Are two layers of shingles better than one?

It would seem that a double layer of shingles should be twice as good as one but, unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. Applying your new roof over the old one does have a couple of short-term advantages though. You save the cost of removal and...

Can I sell a house with a high radon level?

Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Can I sell a house with a high radon level?

We know of no ordinance or law against selling a house with high radon. But many states, including Florida, have a requirement for disclosing to a homebuyer that the house has a high radon level—that is, if you know that it does. This is because high...

How do I know if a radon mitigation system is working?

Tuesday, January 21, 2020
How do I know if a radon mitigation system is working?

There are two ways of asking the question of whether a radon system is working: 1) is the fan functioning?, and 2), is the system still lowering the radon to an acceptable level?
•• Is the fan functioning? - A radon mitigation contractor is required...

What is the minimum and maximum distance a P-trap can be below a sink?

Tuesday, January 21, 2020
What is the minimum and maximum distance a P-trap can be below a sink?

There is no minimum distance specified by the building code, but the maximum is 24” per International Residential Code (IRC) and Residential Edition of Florida Building Code (FBC 1002.1), measured from fixture outlet to trap weir.
• • • • • • •...

How do you abandon a septic tank?

Sunday, January 19, 2020
How do you abandon a septic tank?

A septic tank that is no longer connected to a house plumbing system and drainfield, and is no longer being maintained, is a biological hazard if not properly abandoned. Florida requires an abandonment permit from the Department of Health, which costs...

What are common problems with stucco?

Saturday, January 18, 2020
What are common problems with stucco?

There are three kinds of wall finishes that are commonly called “stucco,” and each has its own particular issues. To know how to tell the difference, go to our blog post Do stucco walls mean a house is concrete block? 
1) Stucco over wood frame...

Do nearby high-voltage power lines lower a home’s value?

Saturday, January 18, 2020
Do nearby high-voltage power lines lower a home’s value?

Multiple studies of property values of homes within sight of big power lines show a decreased value of the real estate of up to 10%, but averaging around half of that. To learn about other issues related to a home near power lines, go to our blog post...

What is the minimum slope for a garage floor slab?

Saturday, January 18, 2020
What is the minimum slope for a garage floor slab?

The building code requires that a garage floor be sloped towards the door, but does not specify a minimum slope. It is usually 1/8” to 1/4” per foot. Here is the citation from the International Residential Code (IRC):
 • • • • • • • • • • • • •...

How often does lightning strike a house in Florida?

Friday, January 17, 2020
How often does lightning strike a house in Florida?

Florida has the most lightning strikes, based on insurance claims, of any state. According to the Insurance Information Institute, there were 7,108 lightning strike claims in 2018 at an average cost of $10,436 each. That’s 28% more than Georgia at #2.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Plumbing Pipes

Friday, January 17, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Plumbing Pipes

Plumbing is not a hot topic of conversation at cocktail parties but, when the toilet backs up or a water pipe springs a leak, how the plumbing in your home has been installed and maintained becomes much more interesting. Here’s links with answers to...

What are the standard treads and risers for a regular stairs in a house?

Friday, January 17, 2020
What are the standard treads and risers for a regular stairs in a house?

A common combination is 11-inch treads and 7-inch risers, but there is no single standard and the two numbers are often adjusted based on the space available. The International Residential Code sets the maximum riser (vertical part) of a stair at 7-3/4”...

How far away does a well need to be from a septic system in Florida?

Friday, January 17, 2020
How far away does a well need to be from a septic system in Florida?

The State of Florida Department of Health requires a minimum of 75 feet between a private well for potable (drinking) water and the septic system. A larger distance is necessary for a public well, which varies according to the gallons-per-day of volume,...

What causes a ceiling to separate from the wall?

Friday, January 17, 2020
What causes a ceiling to separate from the wall?

If the cracks are only along the ceiling/wall line, and your roof structure is wood trusses, it is likely due to truss uplift. These cracks usually occur during the winter, and close back up during the summer, because they are thermally induced. What...

What is the minimum size of a shower?

Friday, January 17, 2020
What is the minimum size of a shower?

Not less than 30 inch by 30 inch interior dimensions measured from finished interior surfaces, with a minimum of 900 square inches floor area, except that a shower can be a minimum of 25 inches in one dimension if the total area is increased to 1300...

Are old fuse boxes illegal?

Thursday, January 16, 2020
Are old fuse boxes illegal?

There are a number of good reasons to consider replacing an old screw-in type fuse panel, but they are not illegal and replacement is not required by the building or electrical codes. Here’s what you should know:
1) Insurance may be difficult....

Should I buy a house with a well?

Thursday, January 16, 2020
Should I buy a house with a well?

The 1950s TV sitcom “Green Acres,” about the hilarious situations and misunderstandings when a city couple, played by Eddie Albert and ZsaZsa Gabor, move to the country was big fun us boomers to watch as kids. But the problems that someone new to country...

What is the average life expectancy of a well pump?

Thursday, January 16, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a well pump?

You can expect a residential well pump with moderate usage to last about 10 to 16 years, with an average of 12 years. The well itself has a 20 to 50 year life expectancy, with an average of 35 years. Here are several factors that will affect the lifespan...

What is the average life expectancy of a well?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a well?

You can expect a well to last about 20 to 50 years, with an average of 35 years. The well pump should have an 10 to 16 year life, with an average of 12 years. So many factors affect the life of a well that it’s difficult pin it down to within a shorter...

What is a Wind Zone for mobile homes?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
What is a Wind Zone for mobile homes?

Wind zone designations were created for mobile homes by HUD in 1976 to specify two design categories of wind resistance: one for homes that are inland and not likely to get hurricane-force winds (Zone 1), and another for Florida and coastal areas of...

Frequently Asked Questions About Wells

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions About Wells

Municipal water systems are incredibly dependable. You turn on the faucet and the water is always there. But a well can be fickle. It requires some attention and maintenance. Also, a well can be out of service for days while a pump is replaced or during...

Frequently Asked Questions About Septic Tank Systems

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions About Septic Tank Systems

A home septic system is both low-tech and high-efficiency when properly maintained. The bacteria do the work and you just have to keep them happy. Here’s a collection of answers to our most often asked questions about septic tank systems:
• What...

Frequently Asked Questions About House Foundations

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions About House Foundations

The importance of a sturdy, stable foundation for a home can’t be overstated. Like a good roof, it’s a key factor in the longevity of a house or mobile home—and usually very expensive to repair when things go wrong. Here’s a collection of answers to...

Can you install a gas water heater in a closet?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Can you install a gas water heater in a closet?

Yes, a gas water heater can be installed in a closet as long as the closet is not used for storage. The International Residential Code (IRC) specifically bans a storage closet as a location for a gas water heater. Here’s the code citation:

Can you install a gas water heater in a bathroom?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Can you install a gas water heater in a bathroom?

No, you cannot put a gas water heater in a bathroom. A malfunction of the water heater or flue can allow carbon monoxide to flow into a bathroom and accumulate at a fatal level in what is typically a small room. It’s odorless, so you would be slowly...

Can you install a gas water heater in a bedroom?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Can you install a gas water heater in a bedroom?

No, you cannot put a gas water heater in a bedroom. A malfunction of the water heater or flue can allow carbon monoxide to flow into a bedroom and accumulate at a fatal level. It’s odorless, so you would be slowly asphyxiated while sleeping without...

Is it safe to sleep in a room with a gas water heater?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Is it safe to sleep in a room with a gas water heater?

No. A malfunction of the water heater or flue can allow carbon monoxide to flow into the room and accumulate at a fatal level. It’s odorless, so you would be slowly asphyxiated without knowing what was happening. The building code specifically bans...

How much clearance is required around a gas water heater?

Monday, January 13, 2020
How much clearance is required around a gas water heater?

The clearance at the sides, back, and above a gas water heater are specified by the manufactured in the installation manual, and they typically vary from zero to just a few inches. But a 30 inch by 30” level floor area is required by code at the front...

How can I determine the age of a Bryant furnace from the serial number?

Monday, January 13, 2020
How can I determine the age of a Bryant furnace from the serial number?

The third and fourth numbers of the serial number of a Bryant furnace are the year of manufacture. The date of manufacture may also be stated nearby on the data plate. So the serial number below indicates the unit was built in 2014.

    To...

Frequently Asked Questions About Common House Problems

Monday, January 13, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions About Common House Problems

There are two unavoidable consequences of the passage of time for any home: 1) the structure moves and settles, and 2) materials deteriorate. It’s the architectural version of death and taxes, and the process begins even while a home is under construction....

Frequently Asked Questions About Garages and Carports

Monday, January 13, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions About Garages and Carports

It might seem that a garage is just an empty room where a car is parked, but it’s not that simple. Flammable chemicals and insecticides are often stored in the garage, plus there’s a big tank of gasoline sitting in the middle of the room in a car that...

Frequently Asked Questions About Attics

Monday, January 13, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions About Attics

Here’s a collection of our most commonly asked attic questions. While they are not quite as dark and ominous as the crawl space under some homes, attics  still present a number of safety hazards and it's important to know how to enter and move around...

What is the maximum gap allowed around a receptacle outlet box in a wall?

Monday, January 13, 2020
What is the maximum gap allowed around a receptacle outlet box in a wall?

Not more than 1/8” gap allowed around a receptacle in a non-combustible wall surface, per National Electrical Code (NEC 314.21). Receptacle outlet box mounting has several other requirements you can review at our blog post Why is an opening in the wall...

How far away does a receptacle outlet have to be from a sink?

Sunday, January 12, 2020
How far away does a receptacle outlet have to be from a sink?

The building codes have no restriction on how far away a receptacle outlet must be from a sink. It is not recommended that a receptacle be directly behind a sink because of the possibility of the a cord that is damaged falling into water in the sink...

How can I determine the age of a Carrier furnace from the serial number?

Sunday, January 12, 2020
How can I determine the age of a Carrier furnace from the serial number?

The third and fourth numbers of the serial number are the year of manufacture of a Carrier furnace, but the date of manufacture is often also stated nearby on the data plate.

    To determine other key specs of your HVAC system, see one of...

How can I determine the age of an American Standard furnace from the serial number?

Sunday, January 12, 2020
How can I determine the age of an American Standard furnace from the serial number?

There are two serial number formats:
1) 2002  to present - If the serial number is a 9-digit combination of letters and numbers that starts with a number, then the first number is the year. Beginning in 2010, the first two digits are the year....

How can I determine the age of an Amana furnace from the serial number?

Saturday, January 11, 2020
How can I determine the age of an Amana furnace from the serial number?

The first two numbers in the serial number of an Amana furnace are the year of manufacture. So the serial number below indicates the unit is from 2010. Also see Who makes Amana air conditioners, heat pump, and furnaces?

    To determine other...

How can I determine the age of an International Comfort Products (ICP) heat pump from the serial number?

Saturday, January 11, 2020
How can I determine the age of an International Comfort Products (ICP) heat pump from the serial number?

The first two numbers of the serial number, after a single letter, are the year of manufacture of the unit for an International Comfort heat pump. So data plate of the condenser shown below indicates it was produced in 2013. To find the age of another...

How can I tell the age of a Tempstar furnace from the serial number?

Saturday, January 11, 2020
How can I tell the age of a Tempstar furnace from the serial number?

The first two numbers of the serial number, after a single letter, are the year of manufacture of a Tempstar furnace. So the data plate for the Tempstar furnace shown below indicates it was manufactured in 2015. Sometimes the date is also listed nearby.

How do I tell the age of a Lennox furnace from the serial number?

Saturday, January 11, 2020
How do I tell the age of a Lennox furnace from the serial number?

The second two numbers of the serial number are the year of manufacture, so the data plate for the Lennox furnace shown below indicates it was produced in 2013.

    To determine other key specs of your HVAC system, see one of these other...

How do I tell the age of a Goodman furnace from the serial number?

Saturday, January 11, 2020
How do I tell the age of a Goodman furnace from the serial number?

The first two numbers in the serial number of a Goodman furnace are the year of manufacture. So the serial number above indicates the unit is from 2010.

    To determine other key specs of your HVAC system, see one of these other blog posts: 

How can I determine the age of a York heat pump from the serial number?

Saturday, January 11, 2020
How can I determine the age of a York heat pump from the serial number?

For York heat pumps manufactured from October 2004 to the present, the first and third digits in the serial number will be letters, and the second and fourth digits will be numbers that indicate the year of manufacture. So, for example, the serial number...

When is a ceiling fan too low?

Friday, January 10, 2020
When is a ceiling fan too low?

Manufacturers specify seven feet as the minimum safe height for ceiling fan blades, but no minimum is specified in the building code. Thirty inches is also recommended as a minimum dimension from blade tip to side for adequate air circulation. 
...

How dangerous is rust and corrosion inside an electrical panel?

Friday, January 10, 2020
How dangerous is rust and corrosion inside an electrical panel?

Corrosion at interior components of an electrical panel creates several safety problems:
1) Circuit breakers are mechanical devices and, like any mechanical device, corrosion can cause it to freeze up and not trip when too much current is flowing...

What is a dead front?

Friday, January 10, 2020
What is a dead front?

The National Electrical Code (NEC) defines dead front  as “without live parts exposed to a person on the operating side of the equipment.” So it means the component is not electrically live and does not have the potential to become live. This metal...

What is a dead front plug?

Friday, January 10, 2020
What is a dead front plug?

The face of a dead front plug is either factory sealed, secured with screws, or openable only from the back, so that there is no possiblity of exposing live wires behind the plug prongs. The National Electrical Code (NEC) defines dead front as “without...

What is an open front plug?

Friday, January 10, 2020
What is an open front plug?

Open front plugs have an insulating cover over the face of the plug that is easily removable.  This is an old-style plug and they have not been legal for sale in the US for many years. The panel covering the wiring was sometimes even just heavy cardboard,...

How do I provide GFCI protection for a receptacle outlet?

Friday, January 10, 2020
How do I provide GFCI protection for a receptacle outlet?

There are four different ways to provide GFCI protection to a receptacle outlet:
1) Replace it with a GFCI receptacle outlet. Probably the simplest solution.
2) Replace a receptacle upstream between the one you want to protect and the electrical...

Frequently Asked Questions About Stairs

Thursday, January 9, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions About Stairs

The building code has lots of specifications for stairs and home inspectors look at them very carefully. That’s because stairs are dangerous. About 1,400 people die in the U.S. each year as a result of a fall from a stair, and just under a million people...

How many exterior steps require a handrail?

Thursday, January 9, 2020
How many exterior steps require a handrail?

The building code is the same for both interior and exterior steps: a handrail is required for 4 or more risers (3 treads). Here’s the citation in the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC), and the International Residential Code (IRC)...

Why does my CO alarm (carbon monoxide) keep chirping after replacing the battery?

Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Why does my CO alarm (carbon monoxide) keep chirping after replacing the battery?

If that annoying chirping just won’t stop, even after you replaced the battery, it is probably  the “end-of-life warning” for the CO alarm. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) began requiring in 2009, as a condition for gaining a UL rating, that manufacturers...

What is the minimum height for placement of a CO alarm (carbon monoxide detector)?

Wednesday, January 8, 2020
What is the minimum height for placement of a CO alarm (carbon monoxide detector)?

A CO alarm can be installed anywhere on the wall between 6-inches above the floor to 6-inches below the ceiling, or on the ceiling except within 6-inches of the wall. There are two reasons for this:
1) Although carbon monoxide is slightly lighter...

Where does the code require CO alarms (carbon monoxide detectors)?

Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Where does the code require CO alarms (carbon monoxide detectors)?

Florida Statute 553.885 has required for about the past 10 years that any new home or home addition that has a fossil-fuel burning heater or appliance (such as a gas water heater), a fireplace, or attached garage must have a carbon monoxide alarm within...

Does a mobile home have an attic?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Does a mobile home have an attic?

Well, yes and no. The roof trusses create an enclosed space between the ceiling and the roof that can be defined as an attic. But most mobile homes do not have enough height in that space for someone to actually climb in and move around or store something—which...

How often does the National Electrical Code (NEC) change?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020
How often does the National Electrical Code (NEC) change?

The first NEC was published in 1897 and a new edition, updated with changes, is published every three years. As of this writing, the current one is 2020, but the changes at each revision are not immediately adopted all around the country. It is not...

Is a receptacle outlet in a cabinet under a sink required to be GFCI protected?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Is a receptacle outlet in a cabinet under a sink required to be GFCI protected?

Yes, if the receptacle is within 6 feet of the edge of the sink [NEC 210.8(A)(7)]. But the National Electrical Code  requires the distance to be measured in a specific way: “when determining the distance from receptacles the distance shall be measured...

Frequently Asked Questions About Roof Trusses

Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions About Roof Trusses

Roof trusses are more cost-efficient than stick-framing with rafters, and also speed up the construction of a home. Here’s links to answers for the questions we get asked most often about them:
• Are roof trusses better than roof rafters (stick...

Can I remove the interior walls under a roof truss?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Can I remove the interior walls under a roof truss?

Yes, you can. Residentiall roof trusses are designed to bear only on the exterior walls at each end of the span. But there are five possible exceptions to look out for:
1) When the home has an L or T shape, there may be an interior bearing wall...

What would cause a roof to sag?

Monday, January 6, 2020
What would cause a roof to sag?

There are several ways a roof can sag, and each one has its own possible causes:
1) Ridge Line Sag - A sloped roof exerts lateral pressure on the end walls that is bears on. In other words, it will push the walls outward unless the pressure is...

Frequently Asked Questions About Asbestos

Monday, January 6, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions About Asbestos

Although asbestos was banned by the EPA as a component in construction materials in the last 1970s, plenty of asbestos-containing materials still linger in older homes. Here’s links to answers for the questions we get asked most often about asbestos:

What are those powdery white areas on my concrete block wall?

Monday, January 6, 2020
What are those powdery white areas on my concrete block wall?

The discoloration is likely “efflorescence,” which is an accumulation of minerals and salts on the surface of the block due to repeated bouts of excess water in the material. When concrete block is saturated with water, the minerals that naturally occur...

When was a receptacle outlet for a washing machine first required by code?

Monday, January 6, 2020
When was a receptacle outlet for a washing machine first required by code?

This requirement first entered the National Electrical Code (NEC) in the 1971 edition.The NEC requires at 210.52(F) a minimum of one receptacle outlet at an area designated for laundry equipment. It states that “Laundry Areas - In dwelling units, at...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Concrete Block Walls

Sunday, January 5, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Concrete Block Walls

Concrete block is a popular building material throughout the Southeast U.S., especially in hurricane-prone areas, Here’s links to answers for the questions we get asked most often about it:
• What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Asphalt Shingles

Sunday, January 5, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles have been around since the early 20th century, and are by far the most popular roof covering in America. Here’s links to answers for the questions we get asked most often about them: 
• Why is granule loss a problem for an asphalt...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Receptacle Outlets

Sunday, January 5, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Receptacle Outlets

People call them wall plugs, electric outlets, receptacles, power sockets, or some other combination of those words. But the National Electrical Code (NEC), along with other building codes, uses the term "receptacle outlet.” Two words are used because...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Fuse Panels

Saturday, January 4, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Fuse Panels

Builders stopped installing screw-in type fuse panels in new homes by the 1960s, switching to circuit breakers that did not require replacement after each overcurrent trip. But lots of fuse boxes are still in use around the country more than 50 years...

When was metal water pipe banned as the sole ground electrode for a house electrical system?

Friday, January 3, 2020
When was metal water pipe banned as the sole ground electrode for a house electrical system?

Although metal piping is still required to be bonded to the ground electrode—such as driven rod(s), ufer, or other approved system—it was banned as the sole ground electrode by the 1978 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC).
• • • • • •...

When were Edison Base (non-tamper-proof) fuse holders banned by code?

Friday, January 3, 2020
When were Edison Base (non-tamper-proof) fuse holders banned by code?

The National Electrical Code (NEC) banned the Edison fuse base for new homes in the 1940 edition of the code. It looks like a miniature light bulb socket and is also called a “Type T." But, because the socket will accept a fuse with any amperage rating,...

Should I buy a house with a fuse panel/box?

Friday, January 3, 2020
Should I buy a house with a fuse panel/box?

While it presents some problems, by itself, a fuse panel is not a reason to walk away from buying a house. But here are several issues to consider:
•• If the panel was manufactured in the 1940s or earlier, it may still have the type of fuse base...

Is ponding (standing puddles of water) normal on flat roof?

Friday, January 3, 2020
Is ponding (standing puddles of water) normal on flat roof?

No. A very thin layer of standing water is normal immediately after a heavy rain on a low-slope roof but, if the water is still there a couple of days later, that’s ponding and it will shorten the life of the roof surface. It is even possible to observe...

What temperature is too cold for a heat pump to work?

Friday, January 3, 2020
What temperature is too cold for a heat pump to work?

When the outdoor temperature heads below 32º F (freezing) a heat pump won’t work well and becomes more inefficient the colder it gets. You have to understand how a heat pump functions to know why this happens. It does not generate heat. Instead, a heat...

How far away should a heat pump condenser (outdoor unit) be from the house?

Friday, January 3, 2020
How far away should a heat pump condenser (outdoor unit) be from the house?

Manufacturer’s installation manuals specify a minimum of 12 inches clearance around a condenser, but 24 inches from a solid wall or fence is necessary. The unit needs space around it for the circulation of air that is being drawn through the condenser...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Four Point Inspections

Thursday, January 2, 2020

It used to be that insurance companies only requested a four point inspection for homes that were older, usually 40 years or more. But some companies are now requiring the report for much newer houses and, recently, even mobile homes. Here’s links to...

What is the electrical service point of a house?

Thursday, January 2, 2020
What is the electrical service point of a house?

What a service point is and where it’s located only becomes an issue after a storm has damaged the electrical service to your house. Everything before the service point is the responsiblity of the local utility to repair, and what's after it is yours....

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Stucco

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Stucco

Here’s links to a collection of our most often asked questions about STUCCO:
• Why is my stucco cracking?
• What is the average life expectancy of stucco?

• How can I tell if a crack in a stucco wall is a structural problem and...

What is the average life expectancy of an attic fan?

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of an attic fan?

How long does an attic venfan last?
You can expect an attic fan to last about 5 to 15 years, with an average of 10 years. But many seem to fail closer to the short end of that range, possibly due to the outdoor weather exposure, plus extreme heat...

What is the average life expectancy of a whole house attic fan?

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
What is the average life expectancy of a whole house attic fan?

How long does a whole house attic fan last?
You can expect a whole house attic fan to last about 10 to 20 years, with an average of 16 years. Although they were a standard appliance in the hallway ceiling of Florida homes before air conditioning,...

When did the requirement for clearance in front of an electrical panel become code?

Tuesday, December 31, 2019
When did the requirement for clearance in front of an electrical panel become code?

The current standard for clearance in front of an electrical panel for working space began with the 1978 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). NEC 110.26 (A)(1) requires a clear area for access and working in front of an electric panel that...

When were electrical panels banned from installation in bathrooms?

Tuesday, December 31, 2019
When were electrical panels banned from installation in bathrooms?

The prohibition took effect with the 1993 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). NEC 240.24 (D) says: “Not Located in Bathrooms - In dwelling units, dormitories, and guest rooms or guest suites, overcurrent devices, other than supplementary...

When were electrical panels banned from installation in closets?

Tuesday, December 31, 2019
When were electrical panels banned from installation in closets?

The 1981 National Electrical Code (NEC) was the first edition of the code to ban panels in closets. We still see electric panels in the corner of the closet in homes from the 1970s and earlier. But the panel will have to be moved when the homeowner...

When was a vacuum breaker first required by code for hose bibbs?

Tuesday, December 31, 2019
When was a vacuum breaker first required by code for hose bibbs?

We know that hose faucet vacuum breakers are an annoying safety gadget for many homeowners, but they have been required for quite a while now. Because we were not sure precisely when it was first added to the code, we asked the code specialist Jerry...

Is a vacuum breaker required by code at hose bibbs (outside faucets)?

Monday, December 30, 2019
Is a vacuum breaker required by code at hose bibbs (outside faucets)?

Yes, it is required at all hose connections, including at an inside laundry sink faucet if it has threading for a hose connection. But there are exceptions for water heater drains and washing machine faucets. Here’s the excerpt from the Residential...

What is the average life expectancy of a hose bibb vacuum breaker (backflow preventer)?

Monday, December 30, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a hose bibb vacuum breaker (backflow preventer)?

How long does a hose bibb vacuum breaker last?
You can expect a hose bibb vacuum breaker to last about 5 to 12 years, with an average of 7 years. But it can fail much sooner if left open (vacuum breaker pressurized) and a hand-held nozzle at the...

What is the average life expectancy of a hose bibb?

Monday, December 30, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a hose bibb?

How long does a hose bibb last?
You can expect a hose bibb to last about 15 to 25 years, with an average of 20 years. People also call it an outside spigot, hose faucet, or sill cock. Lifespan will be shortened by heavy usage or not draining faucet...

What is the average life expectancy of a ceiling fan?

Monday, December 30, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a ceiling fan?

How long does a ceiling fan last?
You can expect a ceiling fan to last 6 to 10 years, with an average of 8 years. Most ceiling fans today are sealed units, but some require an annual addition of oil at a port on the top of the the motor housing...

What is the average life expectancy of a gas furnace?

Sunday, December 29, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a gas furnace?

How long does a gas furnace last?
You can expect a gas furnace to last about 15 to 22 years, with an average of 19 years. Regular maintenance is the most important factor for long life. 
   Go to our blog post What is the average lifespan...

What is the average life expectancy of a septic tank system?

Sunday, December 29, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a septic tank system?

How long does a septic tank system last?
You can expect your septic system to last about 25 to 40 years, with an average of 30 years. But if it is poorly installed, in a location with poor soil percolation, not pumped regularly, or has trees too...

What is the average life expectancy of a pool heater?

Saturday, December 28, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a pool heater?

How long does a pool heater last?
You can expect a gas or heat pump pool heater to last 8 to 11 years, with an average of 10 years. Regular usage and maintenance is key to a longer lifespan.
   Go to our blog post What is the average lifespan...

What is the average life expectancy of a pool pump and filter?

Saturday, December 28, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a pool pump and filter?

How long does a pool pump last?
You can expect a pool pump and filter to last 8 to 11 years, with an average of 10 years. To learn about the energy-efficient pump that are now code-mandated, see our blog post Why are pool pumps now required to...

What is the average life expectancy of a fiberglass swimming pool?

Saturday, December 28, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a fiberglass swimming pool?

How long does a fiberglass swimming pool last?
You can expect a fiberglass swimming pool to last about 25 to 35 years, average of 30 years. The quality of construction and maintenance are the two variables that affect pool life span the most. For...

What is the average life expectancy of a concrete swimming pool?

Saturday, December 28, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a concrete swimming pool?

How long does a concrete swimming pool last?
You can expect a concrete swimming pool to last about 25 to 40 years, average 30 years. The quality of construction and maintenance, specifically maintaining balanced pool chemistry, are the variables...

How long does a swimming pool last?

Saturday, December 28, 2019
How long does a swimming pool last?

You can expect a concrete swimming pool to last about 25 to 40 years, fiberglass 25 to 35 years, and a vinyl liner 7 to 10 years. The quality of construction and maintenance, specifically maintaining balanced pool water chemistry, are the variables...

Do all chimneys require a cricket?

Saturday, December 28, 2019
Do all chimneys require a cricket?

The building code only requires a cricket (also called a saddle) on the high side of any chimney that is more than 30-inches wide as measured perpendicular to the slope of the roof. But it is good building practice to install one for even smaller chimneys,...

What is the average life expectancy of the electrical components of a house?

Friday, December 27, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of the electrical components of a house?

How long do the electrical components of a house last?
The electrical components of a house last from 3 to 100 years. Here’s our best estimate of the functional lifespan of each one. Click on the underlined component name to link to more detailed...

What is the average life expectancy of a poured concrete (monlithic) house wall?

Thursday, December 26, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a poured concrete (monlithic) house wall?

How long does a concrete house wall last?
You can expect a poured concrete (monolithic) house wall to last for the life of the home, 100 years or more. It is difficult to tell a monolithic concrete house from a concrete block house once it is completed...

What is the average life expectancy of a natural stone house wall or siding?

Thursday, December 26, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a natural stone house wall or siding?

How long does a stone house wall last?
You can expect natural stone house walls or siding to last for the life of the home, 100 years or more, which is longer than manufactured stone at 50+ years. Natural stone is also more expensive than any other...

What is the average life expectancy of a wood stud frame wall?

Thursday, December 26, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a wood stud frame wall?

How long does a wood stud frame wall last?
You can expect a wood stud frame wall to last for the life of the home, 100+ years. See our blog post What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction? to learn more. 
...

What is the average life expectancy of a concrete block wall (CMU - Concrete Masonry Unit)?

Thursday, December 26, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a concrete block wall (CMU - Concrete Masonry Unit)?

How long do concrete block walls last?
You can expect a concrete block (CMU) wall to last for the life of the home, 100+ years. See our blog post What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction? to learn more. 
...

What is the average life expectancy of house wall structural framing systems?

Thursday, December 26, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of house wall structural framing systems?

How long do house walls last?
All of the standard exterior wall structural materials can be expected to last for the life of the house, 100+ years. The life of wood wall framing, however, can be shortened by wood rot due to moisture instrusion...

What is the average life expectancy of PB (polybutylene) pipe?

Thursday, December 26, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of PB (polybutylene) pipe?

How long do PB (polybutylene) pipes last?
You can expect PB (polybutylene) pipe to last less than 30 years. It has not been manufactured since the mid-1990s, is no longer approved by the building codes, and failure as early 10 years led to class-action...

What is the average life expectancy of water and drain plumbing pipes?

Wednesday, December 25, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of water and drain plumbing pipes?

How long do plumbing pipes last?
The average life of plumbing pipes ranges from around 40 to 70 years, depending on the pipe material and its use. Water supply pipes are under pressure and prone to earlier failure than drain piping—or, at least,...

What is the average life expectancy of asbestos cement siding?

Tuesday, December 24, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of asbestos cement siding?

How long does asbestos cement siding last?
You can expect asbestos-cement siding to last 80 years or more. It was used extensively from the 1940s through the ‘60s, but not produced after the ban by the EPA on construction products that contain...

How long does exterior siding last?

Monday, December 23, 2019
How long does exterior siding last?

How long does exterior siding last?
Inorganic siding materials such as brick and stucco have the longest expected life, with wood and plywood at the other end of the scale, plus many choices in-between. Click on any one of the sidings listed below...

What is the average life expectancy of aluminum siding?

Monday, December 23, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of aluminum siding?

How long does aluminum siding last?
You can expect aluminum siding to last about 25 to 45 years, with an average of 35 years. However the paint finish has a shorter life. Because it is a baked-on enamel, similar to a car, oxidation will cause the...

What is the average life expectancy of plumbing fixture water shut-off valves?

Sunday, December 22, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of plumbing fixture water shut-off valves?

How long does a water shut-off valve last?
You can expect a shut-off valve to last about 10 to 25 years, with an average of 20 years. But, if they are not “exercised” every year or two, there is good chance a valve will be freeze prematurely in...

What is the average life expectancy of a clothes dryer?

Sunday, December 22, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a clothes dryer?

How long does a clothes dryer last?
You can expect a clothes dryer to last about 10 to 16 years, with an average of 14 years. It’s important to install and maintain the dryer's vent system correctly to avoid having one of the 2,900 home clothes...

What is the average life expectancy of engineered wood siding?

Sunday, December 22, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of engineered wood siding?

How long does engineered wood siding last?
You can expect engineered wood siding to last 60 years or more, based on maintaining an adequate paint finish and caulking. This material should not be confused with composite wood siding, which is no...

What is the average life expectancy of fiber-cement siding?

Sunday, December 22, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of fiber-cement siding?

How long does fiber-cement siding last?
You can expect fiber-cement siding to last 60 years or more, based on maintaining an adequate paint finish and caulking. It is also important to install the joints per manufacturer’s specs to ensure long...

What is the average life expectancy of a wall switch?

Saturday, December 21, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a wall switch?

How long does a wall switch last?
You can expect a wall switch to last about 30 to 40 years, with an average of 35 years. But a switch that is frequently used or in an unconditioned room, such as a garage, will have a shorter life. Here’s a graph...

What is the average life expectancy of an electrical receptacle outlet?

Saturday, December 21, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of an electrical receptacle outlet?

How long does an electrical receptacle last?
You can expect a receptacle outlet to last about 50 years or more, but here are five factors that can shorten its life:
1) Frequent usage - Metal strips in the receptacle hold the prongs of an appliance...

How do I determine the age of a KeepRite air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace from the serial number?

Saturday, December 21, 2019
How do I determine the age of a KeepRite air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace from the serial number?

The first two numbers in the serial number, after a single letter, are the year of manufacture of the unit. So the serial number below indicates the condenser was manufactured in 2013. The date of manufacture may also be stated in the upper corner of...

What is the average life expectancy of brick?

Friday, December 20, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of brick?

How long does brick last?
Brick can be expected to last for the life of the house,100 years or more. And with repointing of the mortar as needed, plus other regular maintenance, it is possible for a brick structure to survive for hundreds of years. 

What are the pros and cons of vinyl siding?

Thursday, December 19, 2019
What are the pros and cons of vinyl siding?

Although vinyl siding has been around since the 1960s, it did not gain much marketshare until the late 1980s. Today it is the most popular siding material, and about one-third of new homes are vinyl sided.
PROS
•• Least expensive installed...

What is the average life expectancy of vinyl siding?

Thursday, December 19, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of vinyl siding?

How long does vinyl siding last?
Vinyl siding can be expected to last 25 to 45 years with minimal maintenance. The better quality and more expensive grades of vinyl siding will have a longer life. It is a low-cost and low-maintenance option for...

What is minimum code requirement for switched lighting in a house?

Wednesday, December 18, 2019
What is minimum code requirement for switched lighting in a house?

Minimum requirements per National Electrical Code (NEC):
•• At least one wall switch-controlled lighting outlet shall be installed in every habitable room, including kitchens and bathrooms. [NEC 210.70(A)(1)]
•• In other than kitchens and...

What is the difference between a luminaire, lighting outlet, lampholder, and lamp in the National Electrical Code (NEC)?

Wednesday, December 18, 2019
What is the difference between a luminaire, lighting outlet, lampholder, and lamp in the National Electrical Code (NEC)?

A luminaire is what most people would call a light fixture, it’s the complete assembly that includes the lampholder and lamp. A portable luminaire is one equipped with a cord and plug so that it can be moved around.
A lighting outlet is an outlet...

What is the difference between GFCI and GFI for receptacles and circuit breakers?

Wednesday, December 18, 2019
What is the difference between GFCI and GFI for receptacles and circuit breakers?

There is none. They are called Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters in the National Electrical Code (NEC) and not referred to by any acronym initials. We suppose that GFCI is the more correct acronym, but GFI is fine too. It’s all the same thing.
...

Does one GFCI receptacle outlet protect the whole circuit?

Wednesday, December 18, 2019
Does one GFCI receptacle outlet protect the whole circuit?

Yes, a single GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacle outlet will protect everything on the circuit, but ONLY if it is placed at the first outlet location. If it is installed anywhere else, then it will protect everything downstream, but...

Does every circuit in an electrical panel have to be labeled?

Wednesday, December 18, 2019
Does every circuit in an electrical panel have to be labeled?

Yes, the National Electrical Code (NEC 408.7) requires that each circuit in a one or two-family panel be clearly identified. The standards are as follows:
Every circuit must be legibly identified to its specific purpose or use.
The identification...

What causes an arc fault?

Tuesday, December 17, 2019
What causes an arc fault?

An arc fault is any unintentional arcing/sparking in the house wiring, usually by a gap in the wires or their insulation. It can be parallel (hot to neutral or hot to ground) or series (a gap in the hot or neutral wire). Either way, the arcing can can...

Where is both AFCI and GFCI protection for receptacle outlets now required in a house?

Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Where is both AFCI and GFCI protection for receptacle outlets now required in a house?

The 2014 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) added kitchens and laundry rooms to the list of areas of the home that require AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) protection. Since those rooms were already code mandated to have GFCI (Ground...

How do I find where the first receptacle outlet in a circuit is located?

Tuesday, December 17, 2019
How do I find where the first receptacle outlet in a circuit is located?

Unless you are familiar with your home’s wiring and electrical safety, we recommend not tacking this yourself and calling an electrician. But, if you are comfortable with replacing receptacles, first turn off the breaker and use a hand-held voltage...

Do I need a GFCI receptacle outlet if I have a GFCI circuit breaker in the electrical panel?

Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Do I need a GFCI receptacle outlet if I have a GFCI circuit breaker in the electrical panel?

No. A GFCI breaker in the panel protects all the outlets on a circuit. But, if you choose to use a single GFCI-receptacle to protect the circuit instead, it has to be at the first outlet in the circuit to protect everything downstream. Not sure which...

Are wood roof trusses with plywood gusset plates alright for house construction?

Monday, December 16, 2019
Are wood roof trusses with plywood gusset plates alright for house construction?

No, they are usually not acceptable, and the reason is that roof trusses for a home must be designed and certified to handle their anticpated live and dead loads by a professional engineer. Engineering drawings have to be submitted to the local building...

How do I determine the age of a GE (General Electric) air conditioner or heat pump from the serial number?

Monday, December 16, 2019
How do I determine the age of a GE (General Electric) air conditioner or heat pump from the serial number?

General Electric heat pumps and air conditioners use a letter code for date of manufacture that is the first digit of the serial number. Because the condenser data plates are stamped instead of printed, they are difficult to read and photograph, but...

How do I tell the size in tons of my WeatherKing air conditioner or heat pump?

Monday, December 16, 2019
How do I tell the size in tons of my WeatherKing air conditioner or heat pump?

You can determine the “nominal” size of your HVAC system by examining the model number on the data plate at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Just like the nominal size of lumber or an air conditioning filter, the exact cooling capacity may...

How do I determine the age of a WeatherKing air conditoner, heat pump, or furnace from the serial number?

Monday, December 16, 2019
How do I determine the age of a WeatherKing air conditoner, heat pump, or furnace from the serial number?

We know of two serial number formats for WeatherKing. For the first: look for the second cluster of digits in the serial number, and the 3rd and 4th number after the single letter is the year of manufacture. The month and year of production also stated...

When did AFCI protection first become required for kitchens and laundry rooms?

Monday, December 16, 2019
When did AFCI protection first become required for kitchens and laundry rooms?

Kitchens and laundry rooms were added in the 2014 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) to the list of rooms requiring AFCI protection. 
    Earlier the 2008 NEC expanded the rooms required to have AFCI-protection to also include “family...

When did AFCI protection first become required for most rooms in a house?

Monday, December 16, 2019
When did AFCI protection first become required for most rooms in a house?

The 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) expanded the rooms required to have AFCI-protection to also include “family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacles and circuit breakers

Monday, December 16, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacles and circuit breakers

The National Electrical Code (NEC) began in 1971 by requiring GFCI-protection for only outdoor and pool area receptacles, then added new locations gradually over the years until all wet areas of a home are now required to be GFCI-protected. This has...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) circuit breakers and receptacles

Monday, December 16, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) circuit breakers and receptacles

AFCI breakers were first required, but only in bedrooms, by the 1999 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). An upgraded version, called a CAFCI for Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter, became code in 2008, and the locations mandated have...

What is the average life expectancy of wood floor trusses?

Monday, December 16, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of wood floor trusses?

How long do wood floor trusses last?
Wood floor trusses can be expected to last as long as the home itself (100+ years), if maintained in a stable, reasonabley dry environment. Moisture from excessive humidity, condensation, or plumbing leaks,...

What is the average life expectancy of wood roof trusses?

Monday, December 16, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of wood roof trusses?

How long do wood roof trusses last?
Wood roof trusses can be expected to last as long as the home itself (100+ years), if they are maintained in a stable, resonably dry environment. Moisture from excessive humidity, condensation, or roof leaks,...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Crawl Spaces

Sunday, December 15, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Crawl Spaces

Customers often say “be careful!” before one of us shimmies through the access opening into the crawl space under a home or mobile home. But the biggest dangers under a house are not snakes or spiders. They are loose “live" wires, sharp metal edges,...

What is the average life expectancy of an electrical panel in a house?

Sunday, December 15, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of an electrical panel in a house?

How long does an electrical panel last?
You can expect an electrical panel to last 50 years or more, depending on where it is installed. An exterior panel exposed to both sun and rain can corrode through as early as 20 years if there is water leakage...

What is the average life expectancy of exterior caulking?

Sunday, December 15, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of exterior caulking?

How long does caulking last?
You can expect exterior caulk to last 7 to 10 years, based on using acrylic latex or latex/silicone caulk with a coat of paint over it. This is also the average life of exterior paint, so an important part of repainting...

How do I determine the age of my heat pump?

Friday, December 13, 2019
How do I determine the age of my heat pump?

The date of manufacture is encoded in the serial number on the data plate of almost all heat pumps. Go to the outside unit (condenser) and look for the metal plate or sticker on the side with the manufacturer’s data. Each manufacturer has their own...

How do I determine the age of my air conditioner?

Friday, December 13, 2019
How do I determine the age of my air conditioner?

The date of manufacture is encoded in the serial number on the data plate of almost all air conditioners. Go to the outside unit (condenser) and look for the metal plate or sticker on the side with the manufacturer’s data. Each manufacturer has their...

How do I tell the age of a Richmond water heater from the serial number?

Thursday, December 12, 2019
How do I tell the age of a Richmond water heater from the serial number?

Richmond water heaters are manufactured by Rheem, and the 3rd and 4th numbers of the serial number are the year of manufacture. So the data plate shown below indicates the water heater was manufactured in 2001.

    To determine the age of...

How do I determine the age of my water heater?

Wednesday, December 11, 2019
How do I determine the age of my water heater?

The year of manufacture of your water heater is encoded in the serial number on the data plate sticker. It is usually the first two numbers or second two numbers in the series, but varies by company and some use a single letter to indicate the year....

What is the average life expectancy of a GFCI circuit breaker?

Wednesday, December 11, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a GFCI circuit breaker?

How long does a GFCI breaker last?
A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) circuit breaker can be expected to last 30 to 40 years, with an average of 35 years, which is longer that the 15 to 25 years average life of GFCI receptacles. Here’s a...

What is the average life expectancy of an AFCI or CAFCI circuit breaker?

Wednesday, December 11, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of an AFCI or CAFCI circuit breaker?

How long does an AFCI breaker last?
An AFCI or CAFCI circuit breaker should last 30 to 40 years, with an average of 35 years. The only exception to this average lifespan is AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) breakers that were manufactured previous...

Does stucco need expansion joints?

Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Does stucco need expansion joints?

Stucco does not require expansion/contraction joints (also called control joints) when directly applied to concrete, concrete block, or other masonry, except where there is a change from one material to another.
    Stucco on wood frame construction...

What is the average life expectancy an EPDM roof?

Tuesday, December 10, 2019
What is the average life expectancy an EPDM roof?

How long does an EPDM roof last?
An EPDM roof can be expected to last 20 to 30 years, with an average of 23 years. Possibly longer with diligent maintenance. EPDM stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer. It is a synthetic rubber membrane and,...

What is the average life expectancy of manufactured stone?

Tuesday, December 10, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of manufactured stone?

How long does manufactured stone last?
Manufactured stone can be expected to last 50 years or more if free from manufacturing defects and properly installed and maintained. Improper installation or maintenance, which we have found to be common,...

What is the average life expectancy of kitchen cabinets?

Monday, December 9, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of kitchen cabinets?

How long do kitchen cabinets last?
You can expect kitchen cabinets to last from 30 to 60 years, with an average of 45 years. Cabinets begin to show signs of age after about 20 years, such as doors that don’t fully close, drawer fronts coming loose,...

What is the average life expectancy of paint on a house?

Friday, December 6, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of paint on a house?

How long does paint on a house last?
Exterior paint can be expected to last 7 to 10 years, and interior paint 10 to 15+ years. But it is possible for a paint finish to fall short of even the low end of these ranges due to any of the following factors:

When is a house not required to have an attic access hatch?

Friday, December 6, 2019
When is a house not required to have an attic access hatch?

Essentially, a house is not required to have an attic access opening when the attic is too small for a person to enter and move around inside. Here’s the two minimum requirements:
1) Attic area exceeds 30 square feet, and
2) Minimum vertical...

When were the water control valves for bathtubs first required to be temperature limiting (single handle)?

Thursday, December 5, 2019
When were the water control valves for bathtubs first required to be temperature limiting (single handle)?

The requirement for a temperature limiting valve for bathtubs (single handle, anti-scald) was begun in the 2006 editions of the International Residential Code (IRC) and the Universal Plumbing Code (UPC), and also applies to whirlpool bathtubs. The Residential...

When were shower control valves first required by code to be pressure balanced and temperature limiting (single handle)?

Thursday, December 5, 2019
When were shower control valves first required by code to be pressure balanced and temperature limiting (single handle)?

The requirement for a pressure balanced and temperature limiting shower control valve (single handle, anti-scald) was instituted in the first edition (2000) of the International Residential Code, and earlier in the 1997 edition of the Universal Plumbing...

When are solid risers required on stairs?

Sunday, December 1, 2019
When are solid risers required on stairs?

Solid risers are required on all residential stairs by the International Residential Code (IRC 1011.5.5.3) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC), with two exceptions: 
1) Solid risers are not required between treads if...

What does termite damage look like?

Saturday, November 30, 2019
What does termite damage look like?

Termite damage is rarely as easy to spot as in the photo above, which has the clearly visible tunnels that termites bore through the wood, called “galleries.” Because they require a moist environment and will die from dehydration if exposed to air outside...

How can I determine the age of an American Standard air conditioner or heat pump from the serial number?

Friday, November 29, 2019
How can I determine the age of an American Standard air conditioner or heat pump from the serial number?

Most American Standard units state the date of manufacture clearly on the data plate, usually at the upper right, but it is also encoded in the serial number. Either the first number or the first two numbers are the year of manufacture and here’s two...

Is a fire-rated door required between an attached garage and the house?

Thursday, November 28, 2019
Is a fire-rated door required between an attached garage and the house?

There are three door choices in the International Residential Code (IRC) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC), and all of them have enhanced fire resistance compared to a regular interior door, but only one has the fire resistance...

What is the most important sentence to know in the entire National Electrical Code (NEC)?

Thursday, November 28, 2019
What is the most important sentence to know in the entire National Electrical Code (NEC)?

It’s near the beginning of the code, at 110.3(B) Installation and Use, and says:
"Listed or labeled equipment shall be installed and used in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling."
    Anything electrical installed...

Can termites eat their way through concrete blocks and mortar?

Thursday, November 28, 2019
Can termites eat their way through concrete blocks and mortar?

Termites only eat cellulose-containing materials like wood and paper; but they have been known to tunnel through softer materials, like thin plastic, to get at the cellulose. Lime mortar that was once used to lay brick for older homes is another material...

Wishing everyone a happy and safe Holiday Season!

Thursday, November 28, 2019
Wishing everyone a happy and safe Holiday Season!

Christmas tree lights twinkling, candles glowing, fireplace crackling, alcohol flowing—it’s the happiest time of the year. But, between 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of 860 home structure fires that began with holiday...

When was an electrical receptacle outlet for laundry equipment (washing machine) on a separate, dedicated electrical circuit first required by code?

Thursday, November 28, 2019
When was an electrical receptacle outlet for laundry equipment (washing machine) on a separate, dedicated electrical circuit first required by code?

The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires at 210.52(F) a minimum of one receptacle outlet at an area designated for laundry equipment, and it was first included in the 1971 edition of the code. To learn more about the details of this requirement,...

Why is there diagonal bracing at the roof rafters in the attic?

Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Why is there diagonal bracing at the roof rafters in the attic?

We often see this detail in older homes built before manufactured roof trusses became the standard for residential construction. It was a way to provide additional rafter support, and also some resistance to lateral movement, for longer-span roof rafter...

What is the minimum number of receptacle outlets required in a house?

Tuesday, November 26, 2019
What is the minimum number of receptacle outlets required in a house?

The total number varies, of course, based on the size of the house. But here are the minimums for each area, per National Electrical Code (NEC 210.50):
• One receptacle at front and back of house exterior, not more than 6.5-feet above grade [210.52(E)]

Does a garage door opener require GFCI protection by code?

Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Does a garage door opener require GFCI protection by code?

Yes, a garage door opener must have GFCI protection. But a GFCI-protected circuit for the ceiling receptacle was not necessary until the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC), so you may find older articles on the web that indicate otherwise....

How can I tell the age of a Square D electric panel from the serial number?

Sunday, November 24, 2019
How can I tell the age of a Square D electric panel from the serial number?

The alpha-numeric sequence is usually a stamp over the wiring diagram, as shown in the photo above. It would be more accurately described as a date-code system, since each panel box does not have a unique number. The diagram below is for panel manufactured...

FLORIDA INSPECTOR LICENSING & STANDARDS

Sunday, November 24, 2019
FLORIDA INSPECTOR LICENSING & STANDARDS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about INSPECTOR LICENSING & STANDARDS:
• Are there any minimum inspection standards that a Florida licensed home inspector must meet?
• Can a Florida licensed contractor do home inspections without...

BUILDING CODES

Sunday, November 24, 2019
BUILDING CODES

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about BUILDING CODES:
• When did the first Florida Building Code (FBC) begin and become effective?
• The home inspector says I have construction defects. How did my home pass inspection by the...

Should roofing nails be visible sticking into the attic?

Monday, November 18, 2019
Should roofing nails be visible sticking into the attic?

Yes, and there are two types of nails that are normal to see in an attic:
1) The ring-shank nails used to secure asphalt shingles to the plywood or OSB roof sheathing typically penetrate into the attic 1/4” or more. The extra length that protrudes...

What is the minimum size allowed for a bedroom?

Sunday, November 17, 2019
What is the minimum size allowed for a bedroom?

A bedroom must be a minimum of 70 square feet and not less than 7 feet wide at smallest dimension, according to the International Residential Code (IRC) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC). This is a basic standard that applies...

Does a home inspector check wall air conditioners?

Friday, November 15, 2019
Does a home inspector check wall air conditioners?

Most wall air conditioners are permanently installed and therefore required to be inspected by the Standards of Practice of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the State of Florida. The definition of installed by the American Society...

Does a home inspector check window air conditioners?

Friday, November 15, 2019
Does a home inspector check window air conditioners?

Any appliances that are not permanently installed are not required to be inspected by the Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations and the State of Florida, and window air conditioners are specifically excluded in the standards...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Wood Rot

Monday, November 11, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Wood Rot

Although commonly called wood rot, the formal name on a WDO (Wood Destroying Organism) report for a real estate transaction is “wood decay fungi,” the structural deterioration of moist wood caused by a fungal infestation. Here’s links with answers to...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Termites

Monday, November 11, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Termites

Termites munch away at the wood in a home quietly and out of sight, but the total dollar value of damage each year in the U.S. exceeds even house fires. Here’s links with answers to the questions we get asked most frequently about termites.
• I...

Why is a roofer's estimate of the square feet of roof area so much higher than the square feet of a house?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Why is a roofer's estimate of the square feet of roof area so much higher than the square feet of a house?

If you were stunned when your roofer quoted you for a 3200 square foot roof for your 1800 square foot house, here’s why: 
 1) Homes usually have two different square footages listed on a realtor’s listing sheet or the tax appraiser’s property records....

What is the difference between EIFS and stucco?

Friday, October 25, 2019
What is the difference between EIFS and stucco?

EIFS is an acronym for Exterior Insulation and Finish System. It was a popular exterior finish material in the Florida up until approximately 2000, and is also called synthetic stucco: essentially a foamboard and fiberglass mesh attached to a wall that...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Buying a House with Problems

Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Buying a House with Problems

No home is perfect, not even a brand-new one. But some homes are way more imperfect than others, with one or several big problems. Money pit or soon-to-be-called your legendary good deal? Should you buy it? Here’s what we think...
• Should I buy...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Sinkholes in Florida

Monday, October 21, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Sinkholes in Florida

Sinkholes that swallow up homes and cars into a huge pit make amazing news stories, but most sinkholes in Florida are not as dramatic. They do, however, cause houses to become uninhabitable or require expensive foundation repairs. Here’s links with...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Hurricanes for Florida Homeowners

Sunday, October 20, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Hurricanes for Florida Homeowners

Hurricanes are not happening more frequently, but they have definitely become stronger over the past decade, with CAT 5 storms threatening Florida almost yearly. Here’s links to our answers to questions about Florida homes and hurricanes.
Evaluating...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Park Model Homes

Friday, October 18, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Park Model Homes

Park Models are a unique category that straddles the line between recreational vehicle and mobile home. Click on any of the questions below to link to the answer.
• What is a Park Model mobile home?
• What is the difference between a park...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Four Point Inspections

Friday, October 18, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Four Point Inspections

A “four point” is an abbreviated inspection on a standard form, usually only a few pages with attached photos. Many insurance companies require one before offering a homeowner’s policy for older homes and mobile homes. The focus of the inspection is...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about House Wall Cracks

Thursday, October 17, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about House Wall Cracks

Cracks are scary omens. They might be caused by harmless flexing due to seasonal temperature and moisture changes or could be the first signal of big structural problems building in a wall. It doesn’t take an expert to recognize that the house shown...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Home Inspection

Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Home Inspection

A home inspection happens between the time you sign the sales contract and when you sit at the closing table, hand over the money, sign the mortgage, and get your keys. Because a house is the biggest investment most people will ever make, it's a time...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Mobile Homes

Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Mobile Homes

One out of twelve homes in America is a mobile/manufactured home. But there's not a lot of information out there about buying, maintaining, and remodeling one. We have made mobile homes our specialty over the past seventeen years and these blog posts...

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

Wednesday, October 16, 2019
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS, in more-or-less alphabetical order: 
• Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) circuit breakers and receptacles 
• Frequently...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Radon

Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Radon

You have probably heard a lot of things about radon, ranging from “it’s a death sentence if your house has radon” to “that’s just a bunch fake science mumbo-jumbo.” The truth is that it’s a real health issue, but at neither of those extremes.
...

Can you use PVC pipe for the water heater temperature pressure relief (TPR) discharge pipe?

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Can you use PVC pipe for the water heater temperature pressure relief (TPR) discharge pipe?

No. PVC pipe is not rated by the building code for use with hot water, so the installation shown above is wrong and unsafe. If the temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve opens because the water heater is overheating, the water will be over 200º...

What is a dead front GFCI or blank face GFCI?

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
What is a dead front GFCI or blank face GFCI?

It looks like a push-button wall switch to some people, but is actually a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) device that provides shock protection for a remote appliance or receptacles, and is called “dead front GFCI” or sometimes “blank face GFCI.”...

What factors can change radon test levels up or down?

Monday, October 14, 2019
What factors can change radon test levels up or down?

Radon is a naturally occuring radioactive gas that is a byproduct of the atomic decay of radium in the ground. It has about a 4-day half-life, so the radioactivity of radon emitted a month ago is pretty close to zero today. But, while it is fresh, the...

Does the receptacle outlet in a garage for a sprinkler control panel have to be GFCI-protected?

Sunday, October 13, 2019
Does the receptacle outlet in a garage for a sprinkler control panel have to be GFCI-protected?

Because a sprinkler control panel mounted on the wall of a garage is considered by the National Electrical Code (NEC) to be a dedicated appliance that is not easily movable, it was allowed an exemption for many years from the requirement for GFCI-protection...

SPRINKLER SYSTEMS

Sunday, October 13, 2019
SPRINKLER SYSTEMS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about “SPRINKLER SYSTEMS":
• Why is a backflow preventer required on lawn sprinkler systems?
• What is the difference between regular tap water and recycled/reclaimed water for landscape irrigation? 

What is the NEC disconnect requirement for permanently connected appliances rated at not over 300 volt-amperes (watts) or 1/8 horsepower?

Saturday, October 12, 2019
What is the NEC disconnect requirement for permanently connected appliances rated at not over 300 volt-amperes (watts) or 1/8 horsepower?

Small motorized appliances such as a ceiling fan or a gas tankless water heater formerly required a disconnect device, but it was not required to be within sight of the appliance. The disconnect could be a switch or the branch-circuit overcorrect device...

Is a ceiling receptacle outlet for a garage door opener required to be GFCI protected?

Thursday, October 10, 2019
Is a ceiling receptacle outlet for a garage door opener required to be GFCI protected?

It is now, but was not previously required. The issue is not that it is for a garage door opener, but that the receptacle is on the garage ceiling. And there is also a little twist in how it must be GFCI-protected. Here is a National Electrical Code...

What are the problems with underground return air ducts?

Wednesday, October 9, 2019
What are the problems with underground return air ducts?

Under-floor-slab return air ducts were briefly popular in our North Florida area during the late 1950s and early 1960s. They were usually in upscale, midcentury modern homes. We guess it was considered cutting edge technology at the time, but now these...

What is the minimum slope of a flat roof?

Wednesday, October 9, 2019
What is the minimum slope of a flat roof?

Minimum slope is 1/4” vertically per foot (12”) horizontally, according to both the International Residential Code (IRC) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC). This is equivalent to a 2% slope. Roofs that are often called “flat”...

FLAT ROOFS (LOW SLOPE)

Wednesday, October 9, 2019
FLAT ROOFS (LOW SLOPE)

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about “FLAT ROOFS (LOW SLOPE)”: 
• Do flat roofs always leak?
• What causes bubble-like blisters in a built-up and gravel roof?  
• Why does it cost so much more to replace a steep roof than...

When did circuit breakers replace fuses in homes?

Tuesday, October 8, 2019
When did circuit breakers replace fuses in homes?

Although circuit breakers for residential panels were available in the 1930s, the earliest examples we have seen date from the 1940s. The one shown above is a Westinghouse from a house built in 1947. Based on the thousands of older homes we have inspected...

How did people stay cool in Key West before air conditioning?

Monday, October 7, 2019
How did people stay cool in Key West before air conditioning?

The “Conch House" is a unique, traditional way of constructing a home for the year-round hot weather of Key West that dates back over 100 years. It’s wood-frame, tin-roofed and has multiple passive cooling features. Until forty years ag, most architects...

Can circuit breakers be installed upside-down, with the breaker "ON" in the down position?

Monday, October 7, 2019
Can circuit breakers be installed upside-down, with the breaker ON in the down position?

No, to avoid confusion, breakers mounted vertically cannot be “ON" in the down position according to the National Electrical Code (NEC 240.81). But there are two reason why you may see it anyway:
The NEC requirement did not enter the code until...

What does maximum sum of breaker ratings per stab mean in an electrical panel?

Monday, October 7, 2019
What does maximum sum of breaker ratings per stab mean in an electrical panel?

It is the maximum allowable total amperage of the two breakers, or possibly three or four if tandem, breakers that are connected to a single “bus stab,” which is a metal finger bent outward from the bus bar in a panel. The bus stab is a connection point...

What is a high drain loop or air gap in a dishwasher drain hose?

Sunday, October 6, 2019
What is a high drain loop or air gap in a dishwasher drain hose?

They are the two ways to prevent backflow and get good drainage between a dishwasher and the drain connection at the sink tailpiece or disposal. It’s your choice of which one to use, but the code requires one or the other. 
   The Residential edition...

How far away from the sink can I install a dishwasher?

Sunday, October 6, 2019
How far away from the sink can I install a dishwasher?

Most manufacturers specify a 12-foot maximum. Some state it as “distance to drain,” while others specify it as the length of the drain hose, which is more restrictive because the hose must rise up to the bottom of the counter top for a “high drain loop”...

Can a dishwasher drain hose be connected after the sink trap (to the trap arm)?

Saturday, October 5, 2019
Can a dishwasher drain hose be connected after the sink trap (to the trap arm)?

No, the dishwasher discharge must be connected before the trap. According to the Florida Plumbing Code it must "discharge into a wye branch fitting on the tailpiece of the kitchen sink or the dishwasher connection of a food waste disposer.” The International...

When is safety tempered glass required by code for glass near a door?

Saturday, October 5, 2019
When is safety tempered glass required by code for glass near a door?

Any glass within 24-inches of a door along the same wall as the door or perpendicular to it that is less than 60-inches above the floor must be safety tempered glass. There are also four exception allowed, as noted below in the citation from the Residential...

What are the code requirements for safety tempered glass for doors?

Saturday, October 5, 2019
What are the code requirements for safety tempered glass for doors?

Doors are considered a "hazardous location” for the purpose of where safety/tempered glass is required in a home, and all door glazing is required to be safety/tempered with only two exceptions: a glass panel so small that a 3” ball cannot go through...

HUD-CODE FOR MOBILE HOMES

Sunday, September 29, 2019
HUD-CODE FOR MOBILE HOMES

Here’s links to a collection of  blog posts about “HUD-CODE FOR MOBILE HOMES":
• What are the HUD requirements for site drainage when installing a mobile/manufactured home?
• Is a ground cover vapor barrier (plastic sheet) required under a...

Why would an old, pre-1970s house have a fire place but no chimney on the roof?

Thursday, September 26, 2019
Why would an old, pre-1970s house have a fire place but no chimney on the roof?

Old brick chimneys that are in poor condition sometimes get abandoned and the brick removed down to below the roof sheathing in the attic when the house is reroofed, like in the photo above. The mantel and firebox may still be in place down below, but...

Can an unused (spare) circuit breaker remain in an electrical panel or does it have to be removed?

Monday, September 23, 2019
Can an unused (spare) circuit breaker remain in an electrical panel or does it have to be removed?

Spares do not have to be removed from the panel. The National Electrical Code (NEC) simply requires that they be identified in the circuit directory. At 408.4(A) it states that “spare positions that contain unused overcurrent devices or switches shall...

How safe is a modular home in a hurricane?

Friday, September 20, 2019
How safe is a modular home in a hurricane?

Although a modular home is built in a factory, it is manufactured and installed to the same building code standards as a site-built home. So in Florida that means it will conform to the extensive hurricane-resistance requirements of the Florida Building...

Can I use the model number to determine the age of an air conditioner or heat pump?

Monday, September 16, 2019
Can I use the model number to determine the age of an air conditioner or heat pump?

The model number is not where you figure out the age of a unit. It’s encoded in the serial number, and each company has their own system. If you enter the name of the manufacturer in the seach box above, it will lead you to a blog with the answer you...

What is the code required minimum pitch/slope for a metal roof?

Monday, September 16, 2019
What is the code required minimum pitch/slope for a metal roof?

The traditional metal roof types, such as 5V-crimp (shown above) and corrugated, are rated by the manufacturers for use down to a 3/12 pitch—three inches of vertical “rise” for every foot of horizontal “run.” Because of the shallow height of the undulating...

What is the code required minimum height above a toilet?

Monday, September 16, 2019
What is the code required minimum height above a toilet?

Minimum 6-feet 8-inches of height to ceiling at the center of required area in front of toilet where there is a sloped ceiling over toilet, according to the International Residential Code [IRC P2705.1(5) and R305.1(2)]. Similar citation in Residential...

Should I buy a house with bouncy, spongy, or squeaky floors?

Friday, September 13, 2019
Should I buy a house with bouncy, spongy, or squeaky floors?

Although these are three different problems, they are often interrelated and two or all three may be experienced together as you walk around a house during a showing with your realtor, especially in an older home. The flexing of bouncy floor joists,...

When is a cricket or saddle required on a roof?

Thursday, September 12, 2019
When is a cricket or saddle required on a roof?

According to the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (R903.2.2) and the International Building Code (IBC), the high side of any chimney or other roof penetration that is more than 30 inches wide requires a cricket or saddle. Skylights installed...

Can I install a new metal roof over an asphalt shingle roof?

Thursday, September 12, 2019
Can I install a new metal roof over an asphalt shingle roof?

Yes, you can. It is specifically allowed in the 2017 Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) at R908.3, Exception 1, with a similar citation in the International Residential Code (IRC):
    A separator sheet between the shingles...

Should I buy a house with double-pane insulated glass windows that are clouded?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Should I buy a house with double-pane insulated glass windows that are clouded?

If you are buying a house with windows that are more than 10 years old, the home inspector may call out several—or many—of the windows as clouded and missing their insulating gas. Sometimes even newer homes will have a few clouded windows. By the time...

GENERATORS

Monday, September 9, 2019
GENERATORS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about “GENERATORS":
• What is the average life expectancy of a whole-house standby emergency generator?
• What is the best emergency back-up generator for the power outage after a storm? 

How can I tell how hurricane resistant a Florida house is before I buy it?

Sunday, September 8, 2019
How can I tell how hurricane resistant a Florida house is before I buy it?

There is no such thing as a “hurricane proof” house. As more Category 4 and 5 hurricanes with gusts up to 200 mph make landfall, the challenge to keep the walls and roof of a house intact under the enormous wind pressures gets more difficult. But “hurricane...

How can I tell how hurricane resistant a Florida mobile home is before I buy it?

Sunday, September 8, 2019
How can I tell how hurricane resistant a Florida mobile home is before I buy it?

Mobile homes are notorious for disintegrating during a bad hurricane, and the photo above of older waterfront mobile homes after Hurricane Irma in 2017 is an example. Newer homes are constructed and installed to be more hurricane resistant, but a location...

Does a home inspector check fences?

Saturday, September 7, 2019
Does a home inspector check fences?

The Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations and the State of Florida limit what is inspected at the homesite to “visible and readily accessible site conditions that affect the structure,” and fences are specifically excluded....

Does a home inspector check every electrical receptacle outlet in a house?

Saturday, September 7, 2019
Does a home inspector check every electrical receptacle outlet in a house?

No. Many receptacles in a house that is occupied and furnished are not readily accessible to examine and test anyway. Also, the Standards of Practice of both of the national home inspector associations and the State of Florida only require that a “representative...

Does a home inspector check pools?

Friday, September 6, 2019
Does a home inspector check pools?

The Standards of Practice of both the national home inspector associations and the State of Florida specifically exclude inspection of swimming pools and spas as a required part of a home inspection. Many inspectors do inspect pools, however, for an...

Does a home inspector check toilets?

Thursday, September 5, 2019
Does a home inspector check toilets?

The Standards of Practice of both the national home inspector associations and the State of Florida require inspection of toilets. The InterNACHI standards specifically state that the inspector should inspect “all toilets for proper operation by flushing,”...

What are the building code requirements for installing a heat pump air handler (indoor unit) in the attic?

Thursday, September 5, 2019
What are the building code requirements for installing a heat pump air handler (indoor unit) in the attic?

When any appliance, including an air handling unit is placed in an attic, there is a potential safety risk for the living space below the appliance due to water leakage. Also, a person entering the attic to service any appliance must be able to get...

Why is there no main shut-off breaker in my electric panel?

Thursday, September 5, 2019
Why is there no main shut-off breaker in my electric panel?

Almost all of the thousands of house electrical systems we have inspected over the years comply with the requirement for a main electrical disconnect. It may not appear that your panel is compliant, even though it actually is, because of a couple of...

Why is the National Electrical Code (NEC) so hard to understand and complicated?

Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Why is the National Electrical Code (NEC) so hard to understand and complicated?

National Electrical Code (NEC) was first published in 1897 as a response by insurance underwriters to the numerous fires caused by early electrical systems. It is now updated and revised every three years with a new edition. If you can imagine how simple...

Should I buy a house with no attic access hatch?

Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Should I buy a house with no attic access hatch?

Making sure everything in the attic is okay is a important. This is where a home inspector might find roof leaks, wood rot, termites, missing insulation, damaged roof trusses, bad wiring, leaking air conditioning ducts, mold, or rodent infestation,...

TOILETS

Tuesday, September 3, 2019
TOILETS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about “TOILETS”: 
• Honey, who shrunk the toilet? 
• Why is there sand in the bottom of my toilet tank?  
• Are drop-in toilet bowl cleaner tablets safe?
• Why is there mold inside my...

Does a home inspector move things during an inspection?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Does a home inspector move things during an inspection?

The Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations and the State of Florida give an inspector plenty of leeway as to what they are willing to move or leave alone during an inspection. The key phrase is “readily accessible.” Anything...

FLOORS

Tuesday, September 3, 2019
FLOORS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about “FLOORS":
• Does a home inspector lift up the carpet to look for cracks in the floor?

• Why is the grout cracking and coming loose at my floor tile?
• Why is a garage floor sloped? 

Should I buy a house with sloping floors?

Monday, September 2, 2019
Should I buy a house with sloping floors?

The realtors call it “character,” but how much character are you willing to endure? And, if you find it annoying, is it fixable and how much will that cost? First, we suggest you read our two blog posts Why do the floors slope in this old house? and...

How can I tell if cracks in the wall or floor are getting worse or staying the same?

Sunday, September 1, 2019
How can I tell if cracks in the wall or floor are getting worse or staying the same?

Cracks in a home, even small ones, are easy to obsess about. Where did that come from? Is it just minor settlement, seasonal expansion/contraction due to temperature or humidity, or something much worse? Probably just a garden-variety little crack and...

How can I avoid buying a house with clay soil heaving foundation problems?

Sunday, September 1, 2019
How can I avoid buying a house with clay soil heaving foundation problems?

It’s necessary to understand the mechanics of how expansive clay soil damages the foundation of a house, and in turn creates cracks in the walls and floors, in order to know what to look for when house hunting. Clay soils are highly water absorbent....

What causes a hot circuit breaker in an electrical panel?

Saturday, August 31, 2019
What causes a hot circuit breaker in an electrical panel?

There are several things that can cause a warm-to-hot breaker, and not all of them are defects:
1) The electronic circuit in Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) breakers generates enough heat, even when there is no load on the circuit,...

How can I troubleshoot a dead receptacle outlet?

Saturday, August 31, 2019
How can I troubleshoot a dead receptacle outlet?

It’s often something simple that is easily fixed, and here’s three things to check before calling an electrician. First plug a nightlight or small lamp (that you have already confirmed works at another outlet) into the receptacle, so you know when it’s...

CLAY SOIL

Friday, August 30, 2019
CLAY SOIL

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about “CLAY SOIL":
• How can I tell whether my house foundation problems are caused by a sinkhole or expansive clay soil?
• How can I avoid buying a house with clay soil heaving foundation problems? 

How can I tell whether my house foundation problems are caused by a sinkhole or expansive clay soil?

Friday, August 30, 2019
How can I tell whether my house foundation problems are caused by a sinkhole or expansive clay soil?

Because the crack patterns can be similar, it often requires an engineering evaluation of the soil under the home to find out what is causing the structural distress in your walls. Soil boring samples and ground-penetrating radar are two tools used...

Does a home inspector check for termites?

Friday, August 30, 2019
Does a home inspector check for termites?

Inspecting for termites is specifically excluded from the Standards of Practice of both the national home inspector associations. One refers to them as “wood-destroying organisms” and the other as a general category of “insects.” Also, while a home...

Does a home inspector check for radon?

Thursday, August 29, 2019
Does a home inspector check for radon?

Radon testing is not a required part of the Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations and the State of Florida. Many Florida home inspectors offer radon testing as an additional service, but they must be licensed by Florida...

Can a termite inspector guarantee that there are no termites in a house?

Thursday, August 29, 2019
Can a termite inspector guarantee that there are no termites in a house?

It is impossible for a termite inspector doing a WDO (Wood Destroying Organism) report for a real estate transaction to guarantee that a house is free of termites because termites mostly live in concealed areas of the home, such as inside the walls....

Does a home inspector check the windows?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Does a home inspector check the windows?

The Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations and the State of Florida require that "windows and their operating locks and latches or other opening mechanisms” be inspected. However, the inspector is not required to “open or...

Does a home inspector check for lead paint?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Does a home inspector check for lead paint?

The Standards of Practice of both of the national home inspector associations and the State of Florida do not require testing for lead paint as part of a home inspection of older homes. Some inspectors offer testing with a kit such as “3M Lead Check...

BUILDING PERMITS

Wednesday, August 28, 2019
BUILDING PERMITS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about “BUILDING PERMITS":
• Does a home inspector check for permits? 
• Should I buy a house that has been remodeled/renovated without building permits or has open permits? 
• How can I be...

CRAWL SPACES

Monday, August 26, 2019
CRAWL SPACES

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about “CRAWL SPACES":
• Is white mold on wood in a crawl space dangerous?
• Should I buy a house with a crawl space?  
• Is the crawl space under a house required to be ventilated if the...

Is white mold on wood in a crawl space dangerous?

Monday, August 26, 2019
Is white mold on wood in a crawl space dangerous?

White mold in a crawl space indicates elevated humidity, from wet ground, lack of enough ventilation, or both. The good news is that it does not cause structural damage to wood. But white mold will be followed by wood-decay fungi (wood rot) if the moisture...

What areas of the country are most likely to have drywood termite infestations occur?

Monday, August 26, 2019
What areas of the country are most likely to have drywood termite infestations occur?

Drywood termites require a warm and humid environment to live, because they receive all their moisture from the wood they consume. So they occur predominantly along the southern margin of the U.S., especially near the coast along the Gulf of Mexico...

Is wood-decay fungi found during a termite (WDO) inspection the same as mold?

Monday, August 26, 2019
Is wood-decay fungi found during a termite (WDO) inspection the same as mold?

The phrase “Wood-decay fungi” often appears in termite inspection (WDO) reports and it is the formal name for common wood rot, which is one of three types of fungi that can infest the wood in a home, but it is not the same as mold. Wood-decay fungi...

Do I need a termite inspection for a USDA loan?

Monday, August 26, 2019
Do I need a termite inspection for a USDA loan?

"Termite/pest inspections are not required unless the lender, appraiser, inspector or State law requires the inspection to confirm the property is free of active infestation,” according to the appraisal/inspection guidelines of the USDA.
    Lenders...

Do I need a termite inspection for a VA loan?

Monday, August 26, 2019
Do I need a termite inspection for a VA loan?

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) requires a termite inspection for existing properties if they are located in an area where the probability of termite infestation is "very heavy" or "moderate to heavy," based on the Termite Infestation Probability...

Do I need a termite inspection for an FHA loan?

Monday, August 26, 2019
Do I need a termite inspection for an FHA loan?

The requirements for a termite inspection for an FHA loan are outlined in the HUD Handbook 4150.2, Chapter 3, which states that “FHA requires maximum assurances that a home is free of any infestation,” and a termite inspection is necessary for:
Any...

What are the pros and cons of steel versus PVC for well construction?

Sunday, August 25, 2019
What are the pros and cons of steel versus PVC for well construction?

Steel has long been the standard material for well construction, but we are seeing more PVC in the last decade. Here’s the advantages and disadvntages of both:
STEEL
Pro• Stronger, resistant to collapse.• Standard, time-tested material.

How can I tell the age of a Friedrich heat pump from the serial number?

Sunday, August 25, 2019
How can I tell the age of a Friedrich heat pump from the serial number?

The first two numbers of the serial number are the year of manufacture for older Friedrich systems, as shown above for a unit built in 1984. To determine the size of your Friedrich unit, go to our blog post What size in tons is a Friedrich heat pump...

Do I need to get a four point inspection for insurance for an older condominium?

Sunday, August 25, 2019
Do I need to get a four point inspection for insurance for an older condominium?

Most insurance companies do not require a four-point inspection to get homeowner’s insurance for an older condominium in Florida. But we have recently done several four-points requested by insurers for townhouse-type condos with a roof directly above...

Why is the insurance company requiring a four point inspection to insure my older mobile home?

Sunday, August 25, 2019
Why is the insurance company requiring a four point inspection to insure my older mobile home?

Although insurance companies in our area just recently started requiring a four point inspection report as a prerequisite for issuing homeowner’s insurance for an older mobile home, they have been requiring one for older site-built homes for many years....

Does code require water pipes in a crawl space to be insulated?

Saturday, August 24, 2019
Does code require water pipes in a crawl space to be insulated?

The code requires water distribution pipes in “any area subjected to freezing temperatures” to be protected by insulation or heat, and specifically lists crawl spaces and attics as examples. It’s in the Florida Plumbing Code at 305.4 and the Residential...

Does code require water pipes in the attic to be insulated?

Saturday, August 24, 2019
Does code require water pipes in the attic to be insulated?

The code requires water distribution pipes in “any area subjected to freezing temperatures” to be protected by insulation or heat, and specifically lists attics and crawl spaces as examples. It’s in the Florida Plumbing Code at 305.4 and the Residential...

CONDOMINIUMS

Friday, August 23, 2019
CONDOMINIUMS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about CONDOMINIUMS:
• Where do I find the the main electrical breaker/disconnect to shutoff power for a condominium?

• What do I need to know about a condo inspection?
• Where do I...

Where do I find the main water shut-off valve for my condominium?

Friday, August 23, 2019
Where do I find the main water shut-off valve for my condominium?

There are two places to look for the water shut-off for a condominium, and your condo may have both or only one:
1) At the water meter - The water meters are usually lined up in a cluster somewhere near the base of the builing, like in the photo...

Where do I find the the main electrical breaker/disconnect to shutoff power for a condominium?

Friday, August 23, 2019
Where do I find the the main electrical breaker/disconnect to shutoff power for a condominium?

Most condos have the main disconnect breaker that shuts off all power to the unit at a meter cluster at ground level on an exterior side wall of the building, like in the photo above. The is a hinged plastic flap over the breaker for weather protection....

Why are older houses, specifically ones built before 1940, more difficult to evaluate for a home inspector?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Why are older houses, specifically ones built before 1940, more difficult to evaluate for a home inspector?

There was a dramatic change in house construction between the era before World War 2 and after it. Previous to the war, materials and details of construction varied, sometimes dramatically, between regions of the country. A home was built of mostly...

Does a home inspector fight for a home buyer to get repairs or a price adjustment after an inspection?

Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Does a home inspector fight for a home buyer to get repairs or a price adjustment after an inspection?

Although a home inspection report can be used as a basis to request repairs or a price adjustment, getting the inspector involved in any negotiations over what should be fixed, how much it will cost, and who should pay for it, is beyond the scope of...

Does a home inspector check the septic tank system?

Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Does a home inspector check the septic tank system?

The Standards of Practice of the both of the national home inspector associations (ASHI and InterNACHI) and the State of Florida specifically exclude inspection of private septic systems. This is because all of the septic system components are concealed,...

Is the stucco on a wood frame house allowed to extend down into the ground?

Saturday, August 17, 2019
Is the stucco on a wood frame house allowed to extend down into the ground?

No, the stucco is not allowed to extend into the ground on a wood frame house. "On wood-frame construction with an on-grade floor slab system, exterior plaster shall be applied to cover, but not extend below, lath, paper and screed,” according to both...

What is the red switch for in my mobile home?

Saturday, August 17, 2019
What is the red switch for in my mobile home?

It’s an on/off switch for the water heater and often located in the bathroom or near the water heater compartment in the home. Also, the switch typically lights up when on. The one shown above has been labeled, but many are not. 
    If you are...

Is a laundry area for a washing machine required by code for a single family residence?

Friday, August 16, 2019
Is  a laundry area for a washing machine required by code for a single family residence?

The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires at 210.52(F) a minimum of one receptacle outlet at an area designated for laundry equipment. It states that “Laundry Areas - In dwelling units, at least one receptacle outlet shall be installed in areas designated...

Does a home inspector check for Chinese drywall?

Thursday, August 15, 2019
Does a home inspector check for Chinese drywall?

Testing for Chinese drywall is not part of the Home Inspection Standards of Practice for either of the national home inspector associations or the State of Florida. But many customers ask about it, and most inspectors are familiar with the warning signs...

What is a Private Provider building inspector?

Thursday, August 15, 2019
What is a Private Provider building inspector?

The State of Florida allows property owners to hire a private inspector and avoid relying on the local building department for plan approval and inspections on a residential or commercial building project. Florida Statute 553.791, entitled “Alternative...

When were smoke detectors/alarms first required in Florida?

Monday, August 12, 2019
When were smoke detectors/alarms first required in Florida?

The Florida Building Code, which has been the statewide standard since March 1, 2002, requires a smoke alarm in the hallway or area outside each sleeping room (bedroom), in each sleeping room, and a minimum of one on each level of the home (including...

Does the mounting pad have to be replaced to install at new heat pump or air conditioner condenser (outside unit)?

Sunday, August 11, 2019
Does the mounting pad have to be replaced to install at new heat pump or air conditioner condenser (outside unit)?

While it might be possible for your HVAC contractor to reuse the existing pad for a new condenser, there are several factors that will likely make it necessary to replace it:
The old pad is fractured, damaged.
The old pad is too small. New...

Does a home inspector check window blinds?

Saturday, August 10, 2019
Does a home inspector check window blinds?

The Standards of Practice of both the national home inspector associations (ASHI and InterNACHI) and the State of Florida specifically do not require inspection of “paint, wallpaper, window treatments, and other specialty finish treatments.” A home...

RAIN GUTTERS

Saturday, August 10, 2019
RAIN GUTTERS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about RAIN GUTTERS:
• Is it alright for a gutter downspout from an upper roof to empty onto a lower roof? 
• Should I put gutters on the house? 
• Does a home inspector check gutters?

4-POINT INSPECTIONS

Saturday, August 10, 2019
4-POINT INSPECTIONS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about 4-POINT INSPECTIONS:
• What is a four point inspection? 
• Is the 4-point insurance inspection strictly pass or fail? 
• What is the difference between a full home inspection and a...

Can a patched roof pass a 4-point inspection?

Saturday, August 10, 2019
Can a patched roof pass a 4-point inspection?

As long as both the patched and the older areas of the roof appear to be in satisfactory condition and have the necessary estimated remaining life, it should be fine. But extensive patching tends to be a “red flag” for the underwriter to look more closely...

Why do home inspectors sometimes recommend further evaluation by a structural engineer?

Friday, August 9, 2019
Why do home inspectors sometimes recommend further evaluation by a structural engineer?

The Standards of Practice for both national home inspector associations and the State of Florida state that “the inspector shall make recommendations for correction and/or monitoring, or further evaluation of the deficiencies that the inspector observed.”...

Why do the manufacturers of many 120-volt wall/window air conditioners specify USE ON SINGLE OUTLET CIRCUIT ONLY.

Friday, August 9, 2019
Why do the manufacturers of many 120-volt wall/window air conditioners specify USE ON SINGLE OUTLET CIRCUIT ONLY.

Most general purpose wall receptacle outlets that you would plug a window air conditioner into are rated at 15 amps. The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires that any cord-and-plug connected appliance that is fastened in place be limited to 50% of...

Is it acceptable for a door to open or close by itself?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Is it acceptable for a door to open or close by itself?

The Residential Construction Performance Guidelines, published by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), states that both interior and exterior doors “shall not swing open or closed by the force of gravity alone.” This applies to new construction...

What is truss uplift?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019
What is truss uplift?

Truss uplift is when the bottom chord of a wood roof truss bows upward during cold weather, pulling the ceiling up and away from the walls, and opening up a crack line where they meet. For a full explanation, see our blog post What causes cracks to...

What causes cracks between the wall and ceiling?

Monday, August 5, 2019
What causes cracks between the wall and ceiling?

Cracks along the line where the ceiling and walls meet can be caused by settlement of the floor slab, but usually there is a separation between the baseboard and floor first, along with stress cracks emanating diagonally from the corners of doors, before...

"WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN..."

Sunday, August 4, 2019
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN...

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about “WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN…":
 • What is the difference between what trips a GFCI (ground fault) receptacle and a circuit breaker?
• What is the difference between a UL rating for...

What is the difference between a water heater with side inlet/outlet pipe connections and one with top connections?

Sunday, August 4, 2019
What is the difference between a water heater with side inlet/outlet pipe connections and one with top connections?

Many smaller water heaters have side inlet/outlet pipe connections to reduce the height necessary for installation in spaces with limited vertical dimensions, such as under a sink counter in an office bathroom, as shown above.
Larger water heaters...

How can I find out what type of water pipe runs underground from the water meter to the house (water service pipe)?

Saturday, August 3, 2019
How can I find out what type of water pipe runs underground from the water meter to the house (water service pipe)?

The best place to look is in the water meter box at the house-side of the water meter in the yard. You might have to dig down through a layer of dirt in the box to find it.
    "At an older house, if you find galvanized on the house side of the...

When did metal water pipe become no longer allowed as the only ground for a house electrical system?

Thursday, August 1, 2019
When did metal water pipe become no longer allowed as the only ground for a house electrical system?

The 1978 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) eliminated the option to ground a home’s electrical system to the water pipes. We still occasionally see the ground wire running to a clamp around a hose faucet for the ground of a very old electrical...

Is it safe to buy a house with sinkhole foundation repair?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Is it safe to buy a house with sinkhole foundation repair?

"In general, if a repair has been certified by a licensed engineer and completed to the satisfaction of the homeowner’s insurance company, it is likely safe,” according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. "However, since these are...

How can I tell the difference between a smoke detector and carbon monoxide (CO) detector?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019
How can I tell the difference between a smoke detector and carbon monoxide (CO) detector?

Here’s a few pointers to help you determine whether you have a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide ((CO) alarm, and maybe without having to unmount it: 
1) Hard-wired smoke alarms are usually found in hallways and/or bedrooms, on or near the ceiling,...

Can a home inspector determine if there are any sinkholes on a property?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Can a home inspector determine if there are any sinkholes on a property?

Home inspectors are not trained, and do not have the specialized testing equipment, to determine if any structural problems or an area of sinking soil is the beginning of a sinkhole. Also, the Standards of Practice for both national inspector associations...

Should I be concerned about my house if a sinkhole opens in my neighbor's yard?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Should I be concerned about my house if a sinkhole opens in my neighbor's yard?

Sometimes sinkholes continue to expand until they reach an adjacent home but, if the sinkhole is not growing, it is unlikely to affect you or spawn a second one. Here’s what the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) says: 
    "Although...

What are the Florida laws regarding sinkhole insurance?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019
What are the Florida laws regarding sinkhole insurance?

Florida Statute 627.706 requires insurers authorized to sell property insurance in the State of Florida to provide coverage for “catastrophic ground cover collapse,” but the law’s interpretation of it means that the damage by many sinkholes will not...

Should I be concerned about an old sinkhole on a property?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Should I be concerned about an old sinkhole on a property?

We often inspect rural homes with a deep, but rounded depression that  appears to be an older sinkhole on the property—so old that tall trees are growing out of it. Here’s what the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) recommends:

What is the code for minimum height of an air conditioner or heat pump condenser mounting pad/slab above ground?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019
What is the code for minimum height of an air conditioner or heat pump condenser mounting pad/slab above ground?

The Residential Editon of The Florida Building Code (FBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC) both state that it must extend at least 3 inches above the ground,  be level, and firmly supported.
     If your house is in a coastal hurricane...

How can I identify a home as ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) construction?

Monday, July 29, 2019
How can I identify a home as ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) construction?

Most of the time, the seller or their realtor is going to tell you. It’s considered premium, green construction, and a selling feature. But once in while a seller is not aware of it, or the information is not provided—or provided incorrectly.
...

Does a home inspector check the paint finishes on a house?

Monday, July 29, 2019
Does a home inspector check the paint finishes on a house?

The published inspection standards of the two major home inspector associations and the State of Florida specifically exclude inspecting paint finishes at the “Interior” section of their Standards of Practice. The International Association of Certified...

Can a grille covering a hole in the drywall ceiling be used for the required make up (combustion supply) air for a gas water heater or furnace in a garage?

Saturday, July 27, 2019
Can a grille covering a hole in the drywall ceiling be used for the required make up (combustion supply) air for a gas water heater or furnace in a garage?

The walls and ceiling between an attached garage and the house living area are required to be minimum 1/2” drywall or equivalent. Most garages have a ceiling secured to the bottom chord of the roof trusses or rafters. If there is no ceiling and the...

What gas appliances are not required to be vented?

Thursday, July 25, 2019
What gas appliances are not required to be vented?

Here’s the list from the 2018 International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC) of appliances that do not require venting:
    Three appliances on the list, #5, #9, and #11, would not be used in a residence. And it’s important to note that the word “listed” is...

CONCRETE AND CONCRETE BLOCK

Wednesday, July 24, 2019
CONCRETE AND CONCRETE BLOCK

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about CONCRETE AND CONCRETE BLOCK:
• What causes raised white lines of residue on a block wall that are crusty and crumbling? 
• Do stucco walls mean a house is concrete block?
• What causes...

FOUNDATIONS

Wednesday, July 24, 2019
FOUNDATIONS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about FOUNDATIONS:
• What is the average lifespan of a house foundation?
• How do I recognize structural problems in a retaining wall? 
• Should I buy a house that has had foundation repair? 

BRICK

Wednesday, July 24, 2019
BRICK

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about BRICK:
• What causes stair-step cracks in a block or brick wall?
• What causes a horizontal crack in a block or brick wall? 
• What causes the surface of old bricks to erode away into...

Why is my brick wall cracking?

Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Why is my brick wall cracking?

For an analysis of the potential causes of different shapes of cracks, go to these blog posts:  

• What causes stair-step cracks in a block or brick wall?
• What causes a horizontal crack in a block or brick wall? 
• What causes...

Can too many receptacle outlets on a circuit trip the breaker?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Can too many receptacle outlets on a circuit trip the breaker?

An excessive number of receptacle outlets on the same circuit, by itself, will not trip a breaker; but it makes it easier to inadvertently overload the circuit with too many things plugged-in and operating, which will cause “nuisance tripping” of the...

Does the seller have to pay for a new roof?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Does the seller have to pay for a new roof?

There is no simple answer to this question. It depends on the terms of the real estate sales contract, how “hot” the market is at the time, and how far the buyer is willing to push the negotiation. For a full explanation of all options, see our blog...

What does the U-value of insulation mean?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
What does the U-value of insulation mean?

U-value is a measure of thermal conductivity, and is the inverse of the more-often-used R-value, which is a measure of thermal resistance. A higher U-value of an insulation material or assembly means more thermal conductivity—in other words, less insulation...

How many foundation vents are required in the skirting of a mobile/manufactured home?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
How many foundation vents are required in the skirting of a mobile/manufactured home?

The standard ventilation requirement is based on the total area of the vents instead of the number of them. One square inch of ventilation opening for every square foot of floor space of the home is standard. More is even better. Skirting with built-in...

How can I tell if my air conditioner uses freon?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
How can I tell if my air conditioner uses freon?

Freon is a registered trademark of The Chemours Company. But it has become a common name for the fluorocarbon refrigerant R-22, like the way brand names “Kleenex” and “Xerox” were appropriated by the public to mean any similar products.
    You...

Is it alright for a gutter downspout from an upper roof to empty onto a lower roof?

Monday, July 22, 2019
Is it alright for a gutter downspout from an upper roof to empty onto a lower roof?

It depends on who you ask this question. There is no building code citation that forbids a gutter from draining onto a lower roof. So it’s a matter of what the home inspector or contractor considers acceptable. Generally, a contractor that drains a...

How do I understand the air conditioner or heat pump condenser label (data plate)?

Monday, July 22, 2019
How do I understand the air conditioner or heat pump condenser label (data plate)?

There is a lot of information on a condenser data plate that is only important for an air conditioning technician, so we will just highlight what might be relevant for a homeowner. 
1 - Serial Number. Although the number is only for a particular...

Why is there a WARNING! POST-TENSION SLAB sticker in my house?

Sunday, July 21, 2019
Why is there a WARNING! POST-TENSION SLAB sticker in my house?

Post-tensioning is a construction technique for reinforcing concrete. It has been used for many years in commercial construction, but we are now seeing it in some new residences. Steel cables inside plastic sleeves are run across the floor slab along...

Why does running a power cord behind the wall for a wall-mounted TV violate the electrical code?

Saturday, July 20, 2019
Why does running a power cord behind the wall for a wall-mounted TV violate the electrical code?

The National Electrical Code (NEC) does not allow a power supply cord to be concealed in the wall, per NEC 400.12(5), which states that power cords shall not be used “where concealed by walls, floors, or ceilings or located above suspended or dropped...

Does the code require a barrier/well around the attic access hatch for blown insulation?

Saturday, July 20, 2019
Does the code require a barrier/well around the attic access hatch for blown insulation?

We don’t know of any building code requirement for a well around the attic access hatch, likely because it is not a life-safety issue. There are code requirements, however, for keeping insulation away from soffit vents, flues, and any ceiling lighting...

What are the building code requirements for a handrail at stairs?

Thursday, July 18, 2019
What are the building code requirements for a handrail at stairs?

A handrail is defined by the International Residential Code (IRC) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) as “a horizontal or sloping rail intended for grasping by the hand for guidance or support." It must be easy to grab and...

Are dining room, breakfast room, and pantry receptacles required to be GFCI protected?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Are dining room, breakfast room, and pantry receptacles required to be GFCI protected?

Dining room, breakfast room, and pantry receptacles are not required to be GFCI-protected, but often are anyway. The reason why involves a National Electrical Code citation at 210.52(B)(1), that says: “In the kitchen, pantry, breakfast room, or similar...

How do I find out the manufacturer of an electrical panel?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019
How do I find out the manufacturer of an electrical panel?

The older the panel, the harder it will be to figure out the manufacturer. Major manufacturers like Square D are easy to recognize, but obscure and defunct brands of a bygone era can be problematic. 
    A few manufacturers emboss their name and...

When are the GFCI PROTECTED and NO EQUIPMENT GROUND stickers required on receptacle outlets?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019
When are the GFCI PROTECTED and NO EQUIPMENT GROUND stickers required on receptacle outlets?

A three-slot receptacle outlet can be installed as a replacement for a two-slot ungrounded receptacle outlet in an older home when there is no ground connection available, according the National Electrical Code [NEC 405.4(D)(2)(b,c)], but only if the...

What is the building code for fire resistance for exterior exit doors of a house?

Sunday, July 14, 2019
What is the building code for fire resistance for exterior exit doors of a house?

A residence is only required to have one emergency exit door, called an “egress” door. You can read about the requirements for it at our blog post How many exit doors are required for a house?, which are primarily about the size of the opening and having...

Why type of circuit breaker has a red test button?

Saturday, July 13, 2019
Why type of circuit breaker has a red test button?

If it looks like the one shown above, it is an older GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) breaker from the 1980s, manufactured by Square D. The breaker takes up two slots in the panel even though it is a 120 volts. 
    Also, see our blog posts...

Will a sprinkler system work without a vacuum breaker (backflow preventer)?

Saturday, July 13, 2019
Will a sprinkler system work without a vacuum breaker (backflow preventer)?

A vacuum breaker is required when the sprinkler system is connected to the same potable water system that serves the house, which could be either municipal water or a private well. Its purpose is to prevent dirt, bits of debris, and bacteria from being...

Do I need a pan under a water heater in the garage?

Saturday, July 13, 2019
Do I need a pan under a water heater in the garage?

The Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC-P2801.6) states that “where a storage tank-type water heater or a hot water storage tank is installed in a location where water leakage from the tank will cause damage, the tank shall be installed...

Is the wood anchor pad for a garage door rail and torsion spring supposed to be nailed or bolted to the wall?

Friday, July 12, 2019
Is the wood anchor pad for a garage door rail and torsion spring supposed to be nailed or bolted to the wall?

Nailing was acceptable years ago, as long as there was a sufficient number of nails, but manufacturers today require lag screws or bolts, with the number specified by the manufacturer. The Clopay installation manual, for example, states that “the wood...

Does a home inspector check the GFCI receptacles and breakers?

Thursday, July 11, 2019
Does a home inspector check the GFCI receptacles and breakers?

The standards of practice for both major national home inspector associations and State of Florida’s own standards all specify that the GFCIs should be checked. “Ground fault circuit interrupters” are listed as necessary to be checked on both the American...

Do microwaves require any minimum clearances around them?

Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Do microwaves require any minimum clearances around them?

Although microwaves only heat the food in them, that food heats the air surrounding it and anything nearby, and needs to be adequately dissipated. Here’s the standards that GE has for the different types of microwave ovens they offer. Other manufacturers...

A receptacle outlet is dead and I think I tripped a GFCI, but can't locate it. Where do I find the GFCI reset?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019
A receptacle outlet is dead and I think I tripped a GFCI, but can't locate it. Where do I find the GFCI reset?

Let’s start with the era in which the house was built. Late 1970s to mid-80s homes usually have a GFCI-breaker in the electric panel, like the one shown below, and it protects all the bathroom and exterior receptacles.
    For homes built in the...

Can vinyl lap siding be installed diagonally?

Monday, July 8, 2019
Can vinyl lap siding be installed diagonally?

It does not seem like such a good idea to us, but at least one manufacturer we found has a detail for installing the transition between vertical (or, in this case, semi-vertical) vinyl lap siding and horizontal. Here’s the installation detail recommeded...

What is a backfeed main breaker at an electric panel?

Monday, July 8, 2019
What is a backfeed main breaker at an electric panel?

An electric panel is backfed when the main breaker is mounted in the cluster of breakers on the branch bus, instead of being separate, vertical, and above or below the branch-circuit breakers. It is essentially providing power “backwards” into the distribution...

What is a bus stab in an electric panel?

Sunday, July 7, 2019
What is a bus stab in an electric panel?

Most electric panels have two vertical bus bars. Each bus bar has bus stabs, also called “bus fingers” or “connector fingers,” that are bent out to receive breakers. Each one can serve two full-size breakers, connected from left and right. In the example...

What is the main bonding jumper and where do it find it in an electric panel?

Sunday, July 7, 2019
What is the main bonding jumper and where do it find it in an electric panel?

The main bonding jumper connects the service neutral wiring to the grounding electrode conductor(s) (GEC), and also to the service enclosure (panel box). By connecting these three components together, it eliminates any voltage potential (current) between...

Does a home inspector check and test shut-off valves?

Saturday, July 6, 2019
Does a home inspector check and test shut-off valves?

A home inspection is primarily a visual review of a home and the inspector is required to examine the visible, or readily accessible, shut-off valves. What the inspector is not required to do is test the valves, and with good reason. Old or defective...

Does a home inspector have to be bonded?

Friday, July 5, 2019
Does a home inspector have to be bonded?

Many states have no minimum insurance requirements for home inspectors. For the ones that do, it is usually general liability or errors and omissions insurance, or both, in amounts from $100,000 to $500,000. The only state that we know of that specifies...

Does a home inspector check for permits?

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Checking the public records for building permits for a home inspection is not required by the Standards of Practice for home inspectors of the State of Florida DBPR, or of the two national associations, American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and...

What does a termite mud tube look like?

Wednesday, July 3, 2019
What does a termite mud tube look like?

Subterranean termites can be hard to detect, even when a house has a significant infestation. They become dehydrated quickly by exposure to air, so they crawl up into a house protected inside tiny tubes the workers construct from dirt, feces, and their...

What is a drum trap at a plumbing drain?

Tuesday, July 2, 2019
What is a drum trap at a plumbing drain?

A drum trap is one of several types of plumbing traps that were once acceptable, but now prohibited. The primary problem with a drum trap is that it is not “self-scouring,” per the requirement of Florida Plumbing Code (FPC-1002.2) and a similar citation...

Why is the mini-split ductless air conditioner installed in a sunroom enclosed with acrylic plastic windows called a “dehumidifier” on the building permit?

Monday, July 1, 2019
Why is the mini-split ductless air conditioner installed in a sunroom enclosed with acrylic plastic windows called a “dehumidifier” on the building permit?

It is likely that the sunroom was originally a screen porch that has been enclosed. Unfortunately, simply enclosing the room with clear acrylic plastic windows does not make it acceptable by the building code for air conditioning and to be considered...

How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

Sunday, June 30, 2019
How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

How thoroughly a home inspector checks everyting in a house depends on two variables: the state where the home is located and the inspector's own personal standards. As of today, 28 states have licensing requirements for home inspectors, which include...

Does a home inspector need insurance?

Sunday, June 30, 2019
Does a home inspector need insurance?

It depends completely on which state the inspector is located. For example, Florida requires $300,000 of general liability, Louisiana requires $300,000 of both general liability and errors and omissions, and Georgia has no requirements. Most inspectors...

DOES A HOME INSPECTOR...?

Sunday, June 30, 2019
DOES A HOME INSPECTOR...?

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about "DOES A HOME INSPECTOR…?":
• What is a home inspector not allowed to do? 
• Does a home inspector inspect barns and other agricultural buildings on a farm? 
• Does a home inspector...

Does a home inspector check the roof?

Sunday, June 30, 2019
Does a home inspector check the roof?

What a home inspector checks on a roof depends on two variables: the state where the home is located and the inspector's own personal standards. As of today, 28 states have licensing requirements for home inspectors, which include education and experience...

What would cause a new asphalt shingle roof to have loose tab adhesion (sealant strips)?

Saturday, June 29, 2019
What would cause a new asphalt shingle roof to have loose tab adhesion (sealant strips)?

When the sealant strip under the leading edge of a shingle fails to adhere properly, the shingles become vulnerable to wind damage from flapping up and down or blowing off. Several warm days with direct sun on the roof are necessary for the initial...

When were smoke alarms first required to be interconnected?

Friday, June 28, 2019
When were smoke alarms first required to be interconnected?

The 1988 edition of the Uniform Building Code (UBC) was the first to require that hard-wired smoke alarms be interconnected, and the Southern Standard Building Code requirement began at the about the same time. The International Residential Code (IRC)...

What can I do during a hurricane to reduce the possiblity of roof damage?

Thursday, June 27, 2019
What can I do during a hurricane to reduce the possiblity of roof damage?

The shutters are locked in place, the patio furniture has been taken in, you’ve “battened down the hatches” and the storm is here. But there is actually one more thing you can do to protect your home’s structure, and specifically the roof, while the...

What is the spacing requirement for receptacle outlets at a kitchen island counter?

Thursday, June 27, 2019
What is the spacing requirement for receptacle outlets at a kitchen island counter?

There is no spacing requirement, just a minimum of one is required. “At least one receptacle shall be installed at each island countertop space with a long dimension of 600 mm (24 inches) or greater and a short dimension of 300 mm (12 inches) or greater,”...

Where can I find the manufacturer's model name for my mobile/manufactured home?

Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Where can I find the manufacturer's model name for my mobile/manufactured home?

The model name/number is on the data plate inside the home. A HUD data plate has been required to be placed inside every mobile home manufactured since July, 1976, and it is usually located on the inside of a kitchen cabinet door, behind the door over...

How can I tell the age of an Eemax tankless water heater from the serial number?

Wednesday, June 26, 2019
How can I tell the age of an Eemax tankless water heater from the serial number?

The first two numbers of the serial number of an Eemax tankless water heater are the year of manufacture. So the serial number below indicates it was produced in 2015. To determine the age of another manufacturer/brand of water heater, go to How do...

Why are most pull-down attic ladders not approved by building code for installation in a garage?

Monday, June 24, 2019
Why are most pull-down attic ladders not approved by building code for installation in a garage?

The wall and ceiling between an attached garage and the house living area is required to be minimum 1/2” drywall. Most garages have a ceiling secured to the bottom chord of the roof trusses or rafters, and that has to be 1/2” drywall also when the attic...

When is an access panel considered not accessible for a Florida termite (WDO) inspector?

Saturday, June 22, 2019
When is an access panel considered not accessible for a Florida termite (WDO) inspector?

Let’s start with a definition of “access panel,” according to the “Baseline Practices for Performing 13645 WDO Inspections,” a document prepared by members of the Florida pest control industry, University of Florida, and FDACS (Florida Department of...

What areas of the exterior of a home is a termite (WDO) inspector in Florida required to inspect?

Saturday, June 22, 2019
What areas of the exterior of a home is a termite (WDO) inspector in Florida required to inspect?

According to the “Baseline Practices for Performing 13645 WDO Inspections,” a document prepared by members of the Florida pest control industry, University of Florida, and FDACS (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the division...

Can gas piping be installed in a supply or return duct or plenum?

Friday, June 21, 2019
Can gas piping be installed in a supply or return duct or plenum?

No. The International Residential Code (IRC) does not allow fuel gas piping to be "installed in or through a ducted supply, return or exhaust,” per G2415.3, and there is a similar citation in the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC).

What are the minimum access openings for a termite (WDO) inspector in Florida for a crawl space and attic, and within these spaces?

Friday, June 21, 2019
What are the minimum access openings for a termite (WDO) inspector in Florida for a crawl space and attic, and within these spaces?

There is no specific information in the Florida Adminstrative Code regarding minimum size openings that an inspector can be expected to enter if deemed safe otherwise. But the pest control industry uses a document entitled “Baseline Practices for Performing...

Why are there sometimes damaged shingles around an area of roof shingle repair or the tie-in of a new roof?

Thursday, June 20, 2019
Why are there sometimes damaged shingles around an area of roof shingle repair or the tie-in of a new roof?

Asphalt shingles are not waterproof. If it was possible for water to stand still on a shingle roof, it would quickly seep under the laps of the shingles. But shingles are "water resistant" because they overlap and are only used on sloped roofs; so water...

Why does the main breaker in some electric panels look like four breakers with a common toggle instead of the usual two?

Thursday, June 20, 2019
Why does the main breaker in some electric panels look like four breakers with a common toggle instead of the usual two?

The GE line of main breakers is one we know of that does this, and only for their 150-amp and 200-amp 240-volt main breakers. Square D, Cutler Hammer, and Siemens also have similar breakers. It is essentially two breakers in parallel for each of the...

What would cause a home inspector and roofing contractor to disagree on the remaining life left in a roof?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019
What would cause a home inspector and roofing contractor to disagree on the remaining life left in a roof?

We can think of three reasons why an inspector and roofer might disagree on the condition and remaining life of a roof:
1) It’s a subjective call, based on professional experience - We have been home inspectors since 2002, and building contractors...

When was a kitchen refrigerator receptacle outlet first required to be GFCI-protected?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019
When was a kitchen refrigerator receptacle outlet first required to be GFCI-protected?

The change came with the 2014 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC), and it does not actually state that a refrigerator in the kitchen must be GFCI-protected. What it says is that any receptacle within 6 feet of the top edge of a sink bowl must...

Is a refrigerator receptacle outlet required to be GFCI-protected?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Is a refrigerator receptacle outlet required to be GFCI-protected?

Although the National Electrical Code (NEC) does not require that a receptacle outlet serving a refrigerator must be GFCI-protected, it specifies certain areas where any receptacle—including for a refrigerator—must be GFCI:
1) Within 6 feet of...

What causes a shingle roof to deteriorate faster and fail prematurely?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019
What causes a shingle roof to deteriorate faster and fail prematurely?

Premature deterioration of a shingle roof can be caused by the site, manufacturing defects, weather, improper installation, or inadequate maintenance. But often it results from a combination of them: 
• Manufacturing defects - Shingles that crack...

What causes small areas of pitting or pockmarks in an asphalt shingle roof?

Monday, June 17, 2019
What causes small areas of pitting or pockmarks in an asphalt shingle roof?

Roofers call them “blisters.” They usually occur during the first couple of years after roof installation, and are caused by excessive heat under the shingles due to poor ventilation of the attic, which is a common problem in Florida. The heat expands...

How can I tell if an asphalt shingle roof manufacturer's warranty rating is 20 years, 30 years, or more?

Sunday, June 16, 2019
How can I tell if an asphalt shingle roof manufacturer's warranty rating is 20 years, 30 years, or more?

Asphalt shingle manufacturers offer “lifetime” warranties that are usually rated from 20 to 50 years. This type of warranty only provides protection for manufacturing defects in the roof materials if they deteriorate or fail before they should, and...

Why is an asphalt shingle roof difficult to inspect when wet right after it has rained?

Saturday, June 15, 2019
Why is an asphalt shingle roof difficult to inspect when wet right after it has rained?

An asphalt shingle roof looks newer and in better condition when wet because the variations in shading and texture of the surface caused by deterioration from the sun’s UV-light pretty much disappear. Also, a second way we age a roof is the condition...

What are the building code requirements for making a house termite resistant?

Friday, June 14, 2019
What are the building code requirements for making a house termite resistant?

The Residential Edition of The Florida Building Code devotes a complete section, “R-318 - Protection Against Termites,” to construction details to keep termites from infesting a house. The code attacks the problem in two ways: 1) create a barrier to...

How does a three-way switch work?

Thursday, June 13, 2019
How does a three-way switch work?

Three-Way Switch Wiring DiagramThe pair of three-way switches that many homes have for lighting at the top and bottom of stairs, or opposite ends of a long hallway, use an ingenious configuration of a two wires between them in a loop that electricians...

Is a range hood exhaust fan required in the kitchen?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Is a range hood exhaust fan required in the kitchen?

A range hood is not required in the kitchen of a site-built house unless an open-top broiler is installed, according to both the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC)  and International Residential Code (IRC). However, if you do install...

Is cellulose insulation flammable?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Is cellulose insulation flammable?

The dictionary defines flammable as “capable of being easily ignited and burning quickly,” and cellulose insulation does not fit that definition. But it is “combusible,” which means capable of being ignited. Cellulose smolders slowly when it starts...

What devices are code approved for backflow prevention at a sprinkler (lawn irrigation) system?

Tuesday, June 11, 2019
What devices are code approved for backflow prevention at a sprinkler (lawn irrigation) system?

Whenever a sprinkler system is connected to the same water supply as the house there is the potential for “cross contamination,” which can happen after a loss of water pressure. This presssure drop causes a vacuum in the pipes that literally sucks the...

How can a house be inspected by two different home inspectors that come up with different things to be fixed?

Sunday, June 9, 2019
How can a house be inspected by two different home inspectors that come up with different things to be fixed?

When homeowners decide to get their own inspector to check out the house before they list it for sale—looking to find and fix any defects that may cause a problem after they find a buyer—it often happens that the buyer’s inspector later lists some defects...

What is the minimum number of tie-down straps for a park model trailer in Florida?

Saturday, June 8, 2019
What is the minimum number of tie-down straps for a park model trailer in Florida?

Florida Administrative Code 15C-1.0102(1) - Installation Standards for Mobile/Manufactured Homes and Park Trailers states that the set-up of park model trailer should be in compliance with manufacturer’s instructions, but have a minimum of three vertical...

How can I tell if my pool is leaking?

Saturday, June 8, 2019
How can I tell if my pool is leaking?

A pool leak can be hard to determine because water is continuously evaporating off the surface and lowering the level, especially in the summer months. But the fact that surface evaporation is the same no matter how deep the water is below it, as long...

How can I tell the size in tons of my Stylecrest Revolv heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Saturday, June 8, 2019
How can I tell the size in tons of my Stylecrest Revolv heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

You can determine the size in tons of your Stylecrest HVAC system by examining the model number on the data sticker at the side of the condenser (outdoor unit). Look for the two numbers in the second cluster of digits of the model number, which will...

How can I tell the age of a Stylecrest Revolv heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

Saturday, June 8, 2019
How can I tell the age of a Stylecrest Revolv heat pump or air conditioner from the serial number?

The Revolv series of HVAC systems by Stylecrest are designed specifically for mobile/manufactured homes. The fourth and fifth characters in the serial number are the year of manufacture for many systems. So the serial number shown below on the data...

When did the code first set a limit of one neutral wire (grounded conductor) connection per lug/set-screw in an electric panel?

Friday, June 7, 2019
When did the code first set a limit of one neutral wire (grounded conductor) connection per lug/set-screw in an electric panel?

The one-neutral-per-lug rule entered the National Electrical Code at the 2002 edition. Here’s how it is stated in the current edition:
408.41 Grounded Conductor Terminations. Each grounded conductor shall terminate within the panelboard in an individual...

When were home inspectors first required to be licensed in Florida?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019
When were home inspectors first required to be licensed in Florida?

Although Florida passed the home inspector bill SB-2234 in 2007, it did not take effect until July 1st, 2010. The national home inspection associations howled in disapproval, citing dubious reasons why it would not benefit the citizens of the state....

WHEN IT FIRST BECAME CODE

Wednesday, June 5, 2019
WHEN IT FIRST BECAME CODE

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about when current construction standards FIRST BECAME CODE:
• What is plumbing venting? When was venting first required for plumbing drain systems? 
• When did the first Florida Building Code...

What is plumbing venting? When was venting first required for plumbing drain systems?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019
What is plumbing venting? When was venting first required for plumbing drain systems?

Just about every time we call out an unvented “S-trap” in a home inspection, like the one shown above, someone says “Is that some new code thing? It probably wasn’t required when this house was built.” But actually it's been around for quite awhile.

Which are better: lead or rubber roof vent pipe flashing boots?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Which are better: lead or rubber roof vent pipe flashing boots?

They both have advantages and disadvantages. Here’s how it breaks down:
LEAD
Pro - Lead, shown above, is the time-tested standard roof boot. It is easily malleable to wrap over the top of a vent pipe.
Con - Lead is considered an environmental...

What type of water supply and drain (DWV) pipes were commonly used in older houses?

Monday, June 3, 2019
What type of water supply and drain (DWV) pipes were commonly used in older houses?

It depends on how old the “older house” is, since the types of pipe material used have gradually shifted over the decades. And, if the house has been repiped, the material will be one of the choices that was popular at the time of repiping. We have...

What causes air leakage energy loss in a house?

Sunday, June 2, 2019
What causes air leakage energy loss in a house?

The small holes and cracks in the floors, walls, and ceilings of a house are where all the air leakage occurs. Well, duh, of course. All houses have them—some more than others—and they provide a continual air exchange route that reduces indoor air pollution. 

What is the average life expectancy of a window unit air conditioner or heat pump?

Saturday, June 1, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a window unit air conditioner or heat pump?

How long does a window air conditioner or heat pump last?
The average lifespan of a window unit air conditioner or heat pump is 5 to 8 years, with an average of 7 years. Air conditioning contractors like to call them “window shakers.” They are...

What is the average life expectancy of a ductless (mini-split) heat pump or air conditioner?

Saturday, June 1, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a ductless (mini-split) heat pump or air conditioner?

How long does a ductless (mini-split) heat pump or air conditioner last?
The average lifespan of a ductless (mini-split) heat  pump or air conditioner is 10 to 16 years, with an average of 14 years. They are easier to retrofit in an existing home...

What is the average life expectancy of a package unit heat pump or air conditioner?

Saturday, June 1, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a package unit heat pump or air conditioner?

How long does a package unit heat pump or air conditioner last?
Package units are most often used for mobile homes and site-built homes with elevated wood floors and a crawl space. The average lifespan of a package unit heat pump or air conditioner...

What is the average life expectancy of a heat pump?

Saturday, June 1, 2019
What is the average life expectancy of a heat pump?

How long does a heat pump last?
While not an exact predictor, average lifespan is still a valuable piece of information. Here’s the average lifespan for different types of air conditioners:
 Split System Heat Pump Condenser (outside unit)...

What is the canister thing about size of a small soda can on a refrigerant line near the heat pump or air conditioner condenser (outdoor unit)?

Saturday, June 1, 2019
What is the canister thing about size of a small soda can on a refrigerant line near the heat pump or air conditioner condenser (outdoor unit)?

It is called a "filter drier” and does exactly what the name says: it filters out small particles and removes moisture with a desiccant from the pressure line (the smaller tubing with no insulation, also called the liquid line). A filter drier is not...

What is the minimum depth below ground of the foundation of a house, for either monolithic thickened edge slab or stemwall footing?

Friday, May 31, 2019
What is the minimum depth below ground of the foundation of a house, for either monolithic thickened edge slab or stemwall footing?

The minimum depth is 12-inches below undisturbed ground per the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC R403.1.4) and the International Residential Code.
    This applies to perimeter footings and, in climates colder than Florida,...

What is the code requirement for ceiling (paddle) fans near or above a swimming pool?

Thursday, May 30, 2019
What is the code requirement for ceiling (paddle) fans near or above a swimming pool?

The 2107 edition of the National Electrical Code [NEC 680.22(b)] states that outdoor ceiling fans installed above a pool or within 5-feet of the inside wall of the pool measured horizontally, must be at least 12-feet above the maximum water level of...

Can a laundry sink drain be installed without a trap under it?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Can a laundry sink drain be installed without a trap under it?

A laundry sink (also called a laundry tray or tub) can be connected to a washing machine standpipe without a P-trap if the sink drain is within 30-inches of the standpipe. Also, the top of the standpipe must be above the flood rim of the sink and rise...

How can I tell the age of an old Singer air conditioner or furnace from the serial number?

Tuesday, May 28, 2019
How can I tell the age of an old Singer air conditioner or furnace from the serial number?

Every time we come across an ancient Singer HVAC system we say “this has got to be the last one we will ever see." And then another Singer turns up a few months later. Eventually they will all be gone but, in the meantime, here’s the serial number code:...

Why is there a stain in the ceiling around the exhaust pipe (flue) above the gas furnace?

Monday, May 27, 2019
Why is there a stain in the ceiling around the exhaust pipe (flue) above the gas furnace?

A circular stain around the flue above a furnace where it penetrates the ceiling can be caused by a roof leak or condensation of the hot combustion gases inside the flue. Roof leakage around the flashing is a fairly common problem. Examining the underside...

When were receptacle outlets in the crawlspace under a home first required to be GFCI?

Sunday, May 26, 2019
When were receptacle outlets in the crawlspace under a home first required to be GFCI?

Receptacles in crawlspaces at or below grade were first required to be GFCI-protected by the 1990 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). 
    The mandate for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Protection for receptacles in wet areas around...

When were receptacle outlets near a pool first required to be GFCI?

Sunday, May 26, 2019
When  were receptacle outlets near a pool first required to be GFCI?

The requirement for GFCI-protection for receptacles around a pool has been modified multiple times since the initial standard in 1971:
1971 - All receptacles within 15 feet of edge of pool in any direction must be GFCI-protected, but no receptacles...

When were exterior (outdoor) receptacle outlets first required to be GFCI?

Friday, May 24, 2019
When were exterior (outdoor) receptacle outlets first required to be GFCI?

All outdoor receptacles were first required to be GFCI-protected by the 1971 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Then it was limited to receptacles “with direct grade access to dwelling" in 1978, and direct grade access was further defined...

When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required near a wet bar?

Friday, May 24, 2019
When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required near a wet bar?

Countertop receptacles within 6 feet of a wet bar were first required to be GFCI-protected by the 1993 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). The code mandate was later expanded to include any receptacles within 6 feet of any sink in the 2014...

When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in a laundry room?

Thursday, May 23, 2019
When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in a laundry room?

Receptacles within 6 feet of a laundry sink were first required to be GFCI-protected by the 2005 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). The code mandate was later expanded to include any receptacles in a laundry room in the 2014 NEC.
...

When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required near bathtubs and showers?

Thursday, May 23, 2019
When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required near bathtubs and showers?

Although receptacles in bathrooms have been required to be GFCI-protected since th 1975 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC), the requirement was extended in the 2017 NEC to include receptacles within 6 feet of the outside edge of bathtubs...

When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in balconies, decks, and porches?

Thursday, May 23, 2019
When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in balconies, decks, and porches?

The history of the GFCI-requirement for balconies, decks, and porches has been an on-again-off-again thing. All outdoor receptacles were first required to be GFCI-protected by the 1971 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Then it was limited...

When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in the kitchen?

Thursday, May 23, 2019
When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in the kitchen?

Receptacles in the kitchen were first required to be GFCI-protected by the 1987 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC), and initially only for counter receptacles within 6 feet of a sink. That was expanded to include all kitchen countertop receptacles...

When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in bathrooms?

Thursday, May 23, 2019
When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in bathrooms?

Receptacles in the bathroom were first required to be GFCI-protected by the 1975 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). It was extended in the 2017 NEC to include receptacles within 6 feet of the outside edge of bathtubs and showers even if...

When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in the garage?

Thursday, May 23, 2019
When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in the garage?

Receptacles in the garage were first required to be GFCI-protected by the 1978 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Initially, an exception was made for receptacle outlets that are not readily accessible (6 feet 8 inches or above) and receptacle...

What is the correct height for the washing machine drain standpipe or outlet box?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019
What is the correct height for the washing machine drain standpipe or outlet box?

Manufacturers specify a height in their installation manual. Whirlpool recommends a minimum of 39” above the floor, and GE has a 30” minimum, except  that GE allows the top of the drain pipe opening to be lower if you secure the hose to the back of...

Can anything else be attached to a service mast for overhead electric service besides the service cables?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Can anything else be attached to a service mast for overhead electric service besides the service cables?

“Only power service drop or overhead service conductors shall be attached to the service mast,” according to the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (E3604.5) and the International Residential Code, and the National Electrical Code (230.28) 

What is the definition of a permanent foundation for a mobile/manufactured home?

Monday, May 20, 2019
What is the definition of a permanent foundation for a mobile/manufactured home?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) includes this definition of a permanent foundation in their publication Permanent Foundations Guide for Manufactured Housing:
C. Definition of Permanent FoundationPermanent foundations...

What is a missing knockout or open knockout in an electric panel box? Why is it a problem?

Monday, May 20, 2019
What is a missing knockout or open knockout in an electric panel box? Why is it a problem?

Knockouts are perforated circles cut into the sides, top, bottom, and back of an electric panel box that can be “knocked out” for the entry of wiring in conduit or NM-cable. A knockout that is opened but not used for wiring installation—with an NM-connector...

Why are carbon monoxide (CO) alarms required by law for homes in Florida?

Saturday, May 18, 2019
Why are carbon monoxide (CO) alarms required by law for homes in Florida?

The words "accidental poisoning death” conjure up pretty horrible images: toddlers getting past the child-proof latch under the kitchen sink, an unmarked container of rat poison powder mistaken for