Here's the 30 most recent of over 2400 home inspection blog entries. You can also use the Blog Index link above, or search box below, to find the article with the info you need. Also, our Blog Archive lists all the articles, including a reposting and updating of earlier blogs from mcgarryandmadsen.com dating back to 2011.

5

How To Look at a House

recent blogs

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 coats of paint that have accumulated over the years will deteriorate the surface of the block,...

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. Since PEX is a flexible pipe, the termination of the disharge piping needs to be secured in place. Although approved, we...

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 building code requirements for installing an appliance (furnace, air handler, water heater) in 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 right now. 
    Two is a sensible minimum though, and your local jurisdiction may have a code...

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 the ceiling when the attic above is continuous with the house attic. So you can use plywood, pegboard,...

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 by straps or other means that are spaced at a maximum distance not to exceed 4′-0″ or as otherwise...

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), and a landing is definitely required. For full details, see our blog post Do I need stairs at...

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. See our article Can a receptacle outlet be mounted face-up (horizontally) on a countertop? for more...

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 resistance heat strip in the air handler to heat the house. It occurs automatically when the outdoor...

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 a range hood does. They have only a small vent slot at the front, either at the top or bottom. 
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •...

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 sweat and get slippery?
• Do stains on the ceiling mean the roof is leaking? 

•...

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 the surface of the material. Each type has its own unique advantages and shortcomings.
PIN-TYPE...

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 further clarified “within sight” cannot exceed 50 feet from the unit. “Readily accessible” means...

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 does exist, and it is maintained by the Institute for Business Technology and Safety, a HUD contractor...

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 any Wadsworth panels installed in homes after the early-1970s. So, if you do the math, that makes most...

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 to be centered on panel.
•• A location where the required clear access area is used for stored...

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 incandescent luminaires (lighting fixtures) except where listed for the control of other loads and 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 capacity may be a little more or less than the nominal rating, but it’s close.
     For NuTone,...

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: if the third digit is not a letter, then the third and fourth digits are the year of manufacture. This...

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 problems. The trap is also installed backwards, creating an excessively tall trap seal, and the accordion-type...

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) as a site-built house. Unfortunately, mobile manufactured homes are not included in the wind...

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 mitigation discounts when a completed wind mitigation report (OIR-B1-1802) is submitted to your insurer. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

SIDING

Sunday, October 25, 2020
SIDING

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

What causes warped, buckled vinyl siding?

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

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

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

Sunday, October 25, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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