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Here's the 30 most recent of over 1,400 home inspection blog entries. You can also use the Blog Index link above, or Google Custom Search box below, to find the article with the info you need. Also, our Blog Archive lists all the articles, including a reposting of earlier blogs from www.mcgarryandmadsen.com dating back to 2011.

5

How To Look at a House

recent blogs

When is an access panel considered not accessible for a Florida termite (WDO) inspector?

Saturday, June 22, 2019

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 Agriculture and Consumer Services, the division of Florida government that regulates WDO inspections):

What areas of the exterior of a home is a termite (WDO) inspector in Florida required to inspect?

Saturday, June 22, 2019

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 of Florida government that regulates WDO inspections), “the inspection of each structure shall include...

Can gas piping be installed in a supply or return duct or plenum?

Friday, June 21, 2019

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).



    Also, see our blog post What are the requirements for installing a gas...

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

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 13645 WDO Inspections” as a standard. It was prepared in 2005 by a committee comprised of members...

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

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 rolls down the roof after it hits the surface, and does not get a chance to move upward into the...

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

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 two 120-volt hot legs, and the only answer we could get from GE tech support as to why it’s like that...

What would cause a home inspector and roofing contractor to disagree on the remaining life left in a roof?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

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 for many years before that. Since we are also licensed roofing contractors, we have done our...

When was a kitchen refrigerator receptacle outlet first required to be GFCI-protected?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

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 have GFCI-protection. So many refrigerator receptacle outlets are going to fall within that 6-foot...

Is a refrigerator receptacle outlet required to be GFCI-protected?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

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 the edge of any sink - For example, if the refrigerator receptacle is within 6 feet of the kitchen...

What causes a shingle roof to deteriorate faster and fail prematurely?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

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 easily, don’t develop adequate tab adhesion, or lose surface rock granules rapidly probably...

What causes small areas of pitting or pockmarks in an asphalt shingle roof?

Monday, June 17, 2019

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 any volatile gasses or moisture trapped in the layers of asphalt during manufacture, which try to...

How can I tell if an asphalt shingle roof manufacturer's warranty rating is 20 years, 30 years, or more?

Sunday, June 16, 2019

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 the warranty can be voided due to improper installation or inadequate maintenance of the roof.

Why is an asphalt shingle roof difficult to inspect when wet right after it has rained?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

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 of the metal flashings and drip edge, which are shiny and also don’t show their age as clearly right...

What are the building code requirements for making a house termite resistant?

Friday, June 14, 2019

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 keep them from getting into the house, and 2) make it easier to spot termites if they do manage to...

How does a three-way switch work?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The 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 refer to as “travelers.” Unlike a regular light switch with up-means-on and down-means-off, anytime you throw one of these switches...

Is a range hood exhaust fan required in the kitchen?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

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 a range hood in a kitchen, it must exhaust to the exterior (not allowed to terminate in attic or...

Is cellulose insulation flammable?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

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 to burn and, if installed too close to an ignition source like a gas flue or recessed light fixture,...

What devices are code approved for backflow prevention at a sprinkler (lawn irrigation) system?

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

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 water backwards, and may bring dirt and contaminants into the water supply of a home.

...

How can a house be inspected by two different home inspectors that come up with different things to be fixed?

Sunday, June 9, 2019

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 not in the seller’s inspection report. Does that mean the first inspector was a slouch?

What is the minimum number of tie-down straps for a park model trailer in Florida?

Saturday, June 8, 2019

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 tie-down straps and three frame tie-down straps on each side.

(1) Installation standards...

How can I tell if my pool is leaking?

Saturday, June 8, 2019

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 as water temperature is the same, makes the task of finding out if your pool is leaking easier. Simply...

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

The Revolv series of HVAC systems by Stylecrest are designed specifically for mobile/manufactured homes, and the company is a division of Nortek (formerly Nordyne). 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...

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

Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Revolv series of HVAC systems by Stylecrest are designed specifically for mobile/manufactured homes, and the company is a division of Nortek (formerly Nordyne). The fourth and fifth characters in the serial number are the year of manufacture for a Nordyne system. So the serial number shown below on the data plate of a Nordyne package heat pump...

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

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 terminal that is not also used for another conductor.Exception: Grounded conductors...

When were home inspectors first required to be licensed in Florida?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

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. After it was law, the ASHI Reporter magazine grumbled in the August, 2010, issue that "Florida ASHI...

WHEN IT FIRST BECAME CODE

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

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 requirement for two 20-amp kitchen counter appliance circuits begin?

• When was it first required...

What is plumbing venting? When was venting first required for plumbing drain systems?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

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.

   The original 1948 edition of the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) required venting for all...

Which are better: lead or rubber roof vent pipe flashing boots?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

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 hazard and can have negative health effects if handled or disposed of improperly....

What type of water supply and drain (DWV) pipes were commonly used in older houses?

Monday, June 3, 2019

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 done a decade-by-decade breakdown of what you are likely to find. 

• What type water supply...

What causes air leakage energy loss in a house?

Sunday, June 2, 2019

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. 

    The U.S. Department of Energy (EPA) even has a definition for it: "Natural...