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Here's the 30 most recent of over 1,500 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

Is the stucco on a wood frame house allowed to extend down into the ground?

Saturday, August 17, 2019

No, the stucco is not allowed to extend into the ground on a wood frame house. It used to be acceptable and we still see it on some homes built in the 1980s and earlier. But when stucco extends into the ground on a frame home it creates two problems:

1) No termite inspection area - Many pest control companies in our area will not issue...

What is the red switch for in my mobile home?

Saturday, August 17, 2019

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 having trouble locating the water heater compartment, see our blog post Where do I find the water...

Is a laundry area for a washing machine required by code for a single family residence?

Friday, August 16, 2019

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 for installation of laundry equipment.” There are two exceptions allowed: 1) for multifamily...

What is a "Private Provider" building inspector?

Thursday, August 15, 2019

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 Plans Review And Inspection,” which became effective October 1, 2002,  allows a person licensed...

When were smoke detectors/alarms first required in Florida?

Monday, August 12, 2019

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 basement). The smoke alarms must be hard-wired and interconnected, with a battery backup.

Does the mounting pad have to be replaced to install at new heat pump or air conditioner condenser (outside unit)?

Sunday, August 11, 2019

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 condensers often have a larger footprint to accomodate the additional surface area of condenser...

Does a home inspector check window blinds?

Saturday, August 10, 2019

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 inspector may choose to comment about the blinds, but the inspectors we know do not check for defects...

RAIN GUTTERS

Saturday, August 10, 2019

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?

4-POINT INSPECTIONS

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about 4-POINT INSPECTIONS:

• Is the 4-point insurance inspection strictly pass or fail?

• Should I give a copy of the home inspection report to the bank or insurance company? 

• How do I get my home ready for a four point inspection for insurance?

• Will a house...

Can a patched roof pass a 4-point inspection?

Saturday, August 10, 2019

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 at the inspectors photos and notes. Sometimes the insurance company will send out their own inspector...

Why do home inspectors sometimes recommend "further evaluation by a structural engineer"?

Friday, August 9, 2019

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.” The remedy for any significant structural problem has to be specified by a structual engineer....

Why do the manufacturers of many 120-volt wall/window air conditioners specify "USE ON SINGLE OUTLET CIRCUIT ONLY."

Friday, August 9, 2019

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 the rating of a multiple outlet circuit to which it is connected. So a wall/window air conditioner...

Is it acceptable for a door to open or close by itself?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

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 and it makes an exception for a remodeling where a new door is installed in an existing wall...

What is truss uplift?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

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 open along the line between the ceiling and walls?



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What causes cracks to open along the line between the ceiling and walls?

Monday, August 5, 2019

Cracks along the line where the ceiling and interior 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 any ceiling/wall crack lines appear.

    If the cracks are just along the...

"WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN..."

Sunday, August 4, 2019

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 dry, damp, and wet locations?  

• What is the difference between the electric...

What is the difference between a water heater with side inlet/outlet pipe connections and one with top connections?

Sunday, August 4, 2019

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 with side inlet/outlet connections are often specifically designed to be rated for manufactured/mobile...

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

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 meter then you can know for sure that it has not been replaced,” according to master plumber...

When did metal water pipe become no longer allowed as the only ground for a house electrical system?

Thursday, August 1, 2019

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 system that has not been updated. But many times it has been converted to a bonding connection...

Is it safe to buy a house with sinkhole foundation repair?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

While it is possible for further sinkhole development to cause problems with a house that has had foundation repair, it is extremely unlikely for two reasons:

1) When the foundation is “pinned,” it means steel rods are driven into the ground next to the wall around the perimeter of the home until “refusal” at solid rock, then a bracket...

How can I tell the difference between a smoke detector and carbon monoxide (CO) detector?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Here’s a few pointers to help you determine what you are looking at, hopefully without having to unmount it: 

1) Hard-wired smoke alarms are usually found in hallways and/or bedrooms, on or near the ceiling, and they often have no visible designation on the face or it is faintly embossed in the plastic. Battery-powered smoke detectors can...

Can a home inspector determine if there are any sinkholes on a property?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

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 and the State of Florida state that the inspector is not required to evaluate “geological, geotechnical...

Should I be concerned about my house if a sinkhole opens in my neighbor's yard?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

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 sinkholes in Florida sometimes occur in sets, most are isolated events. The bedrock underlying...

What are the Florida laws regarding sinkhole insurance?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

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 be covered. The law defines a sinkhole as “a land form created by subsidence of soil, sediment, or...

Should I be concerned about an old sinkhole on a property?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

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:

"If you have a sinkhole on a large property, and it is not actively developing or impacting...

What is the code for minimum height of an air conditioner or heat pump condenser mounting pad/slab above ground?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

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.

    Also, see our blog post Why does an air conditioner condenser unit need to be level?

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How can I identify a home as ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) construction?

Monday, July 29, 2019

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.

    Although an ICF home is easy to recognize during construction, like in the photo above, it...

Does a home inspector check the paint finishes on a house?

Monday, July 29, 2019

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 Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), for example, states that the inspector is not required to "inspect...

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

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 roof structure is exposed in the garage, then the drywall separating the garage from the dwelling must...

What gas appliances are not required to be vented?

Thursday, July 25, 2019

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 repeated again and again. All gas appliances must be listed—which means tested and approved—by...