Here's the 30 most recent of over 2300 home inspection blog entries. You can also use the Blog Index link above, or search box below, to find the article with the info you need. Also, our Blog Archive lists all the articles, including a reposting and updating of earlier blogs from www.mcgarryandmadsen.com dating back to 2011.

5

How To Look at a House

recent blogs

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

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

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

How much does a wind mitigation inspection save on insurance?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 a 2x6, 1-3/4” for 2x8, 2-1/4” for 2x10 and 2-3/4” for 2x12.2) "The ends of each rafter or ceiling...

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 (12’-3”) of vertical height between floor levels or landings. That is an extremely long stair run,...

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 PBR to be used for roof slopes as low as 1/12 pitch (one inch vertical for every twelve inches horizontal)....

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 (InterNACHI) specifies that “the inspector shall inspect the cooling system, using normal operating...

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 of water heater, go to How do I determine the age of my water heater?
• • • • • • • • •...

What is an ECX driver bit?

Sunday, September 13, 2020
What is an ECX driver bit?

It is a driver 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 square drive bit, the ECX works best. It comes in two sizes: #1, and a larger #2. Both are shown above. 
• •...

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. 

    The photo at the top of the page shows the right way to do it, and the photo below is...

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 a white button means the breaker is an CAFCI (Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter). Square D...

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 inspect the structural components including foundation and framing.” But the inspector is not required...

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 "The inspector is not required to determine cooling adequacy and distribution balance,” while the...

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 with clouded glass. Here’s how it is stated: "The inspector shall report as in need of correction any...

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 Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Here’s what InterNACHI says: "The inspector is not required to...

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 safety glazing." And it is not mentioned at all in the inspection standards of The American Society...

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.” But the other major national home inspector association, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI),...

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 attempts to move anything for a better view of the walls, floor, or windows of a house. 
...

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 components over time. Here’s some examples:
1) Missing splash block - Ideally, we would like...

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.
    So a home inspector is unlikely to call out missing gutters based on the building code, but may...

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 and foundation wall (not a thickened edge concrete slab foundation, like most newer homes) and is...

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 configuration is called a NEMA 5-20R, a standard created by the National Electrical Manufacturers...

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 feature. So the wind mitigation form is intended to benefit you by providing a reduced...

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 valve or combination valve shall serve a single relief device and shall not connect to piping serving...

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 adapter converter” and a “Shockshield GFCI-Plug with Surge Protection.” Both are available online...

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 a nail driven diagonally through the roof rafter or truss into the top plate of the wall. This is the...

Do I get a a discount for partial hurricane shutters in a Wind Mitigation inspection?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Do I get a 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 is allowed for opening protection. All glazed openings, including skylights, must have wind and...

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 of installing an infill material into a prepared opening in windows, door panels, partitions, etc.”...

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.
    Also see our blog posts How long is a four point inspection valid? and Is a four-point inspection...

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