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Here's the 50 most recent of over 1,200 home inspection blog entries. You can also use the Blog Index link above, or Google Custom Search box below, to find the one with the info you need.

5

How To Look at a House

recent blogs

Can the a garage door header bracket and torsion springs be mounted through drywall?

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Because of the tremendous torque and tension on them, manufacturer’s specify that connections must be made directly to a 40 mm wood plate (2x lumber, approx 1.5” thick), or using concrete anchors to a masonry wall. Mounting through drywall is not approved. The...

What is the code requirement for the height and width of an access opening to the crawl space under a house?

Monday, December 10, 2018

The crawl space must have an entry opening that is a minimum of 16-inches high by 24-inches wide if it is at an exterior wall, according to the International Residential Code (IRC) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC R408.4). An access...

Are light switches required to be grounded?

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Light switches have been required to be grounded since the 1999 edition of the National Electrical Code. So any light switch installed since your local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction or, in other words, the building department) adopted the 1999 NEC should...

Is pipe insulation flammable?

Friday, December 7, 2018

The round foam pipe insulation with a slit on one side that is used most often in residential applications is polyethylene or neoprene, both of which are classified as combustible. Some formulations of the material may self-extinguish after a flame is removed...

What year did HUD first begin enforcing the HUD-code standards for mobile/manufactured homes?

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The “National Mobile Home Construction and Safety Standards Act” was passed by Congress and enacted into law by president Gerald Ford on August 22nd, 1974. But it did not take effect and begin enforcement until June 15th, 1976. All manufactured homes constructed...

What problems are caused by connecting copper pipe/tubing directly to galvanized steel pipe?

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

When two different metals that are distant from each other on the Galvanic Scale are connected directly to each other, an electrolytic reaction called galvanic corrosion consumes the metal that is lower on the scale. Since steel is below copper on the scale,...

Should I use a dielectric union or brass nipple to connect copper tubing and galvanized steel pipe?

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The building code allows you to use either one. Here’s what it says in the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC).

     Brass is a copper/zinc alloy, so a brass nipple qualifies as a type...

What are the code requirements for fire separation between an attached garage and the house?

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

There are requirements for the walls and ceiling, door to the house, HVAC ducts, and any other garage/house penetrations. Let’s take them one at a time:

WALLS AND CEILING - The wall between an attached garage and the house living area is required to...

Are there sinkholes in The Villages, Florida?

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Like most of Florida, sinkholes open up in The Villages due to the permerable karst underlayment that runs throughout the state. Unusually heavy rains can trigger them and four appeared after a particularly rainy week in May of this year. Two homes had to be...

Can I vent a water heater horizontally?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Most tank-type gas water heaters are “atmospheric vent” type, and they are required to vent vertically and above the roof of a home. Two specialized types of water heaters, direct vent and mechanical vent (also called power vent), are exempted from this code...

What is the code requirement for fire separation in an attic between sides of a duplex?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A 1-hour fire rating for the wall separating the units, which is usually 5/8” Type-X drywall, is required. It must extend from foundation to underside of roof sheathing. Here’s how it is specified in the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC)...

When was a fire separation in the attic first required between sides of a duplex?

Monday, November 26, 2018

We know that the requirement was in the original 2002 edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC), and the three allowed exceptions have been added in the years since then. The earliest code we still have kicking around in the office is a 2006 International Residential...

Can you connect CPVC pipe directly to a gas water heater?

Monday, November 19, 2018

CPVC water pipe is considered a combustible material—even though it will not burn unless subjected to an external flame source and, once the flame source is removed, it will not continue to burn. So, because it is rated as combustible, any CPVC pipe must be a...

My bathroom is stinky and humid even though it has an exhaust fan. What can I do to fix it?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Each time the bathroom is used, it generates humidity and odors that need to be exhausted outside to maintain a healthy indoor environment. There are a couple of possible reasons your fan is not doing its job well enough:

   The fan is not on long...

How can I check to see if my bathroom exhaust fan is actually working and moving air?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

If you can hear the fan when you turn it on, but it seems like it’s always stinky and humid in there, here’s a simple test you can do to check and make sure it’s working. Close the bathroom door, tear off a strip of toilet paper about a foot long and lay it gently...

When is safety glass required for windows at stairs and stair landings?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

When window glazing (glass) at stairs is located in what the building code defines as a “hazardous location,” safety glass is required. It becomes hazardous according to the code when the bottom of the glass is less than 36-inches above the walking surface of...

How can I determine the age of a Tiny Titan water heater from the serial number?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The first two numbers of the serial number are the year of manufacture, so the serial number shown below indicates the water heater was manufactured in 2015. Tiny Titan is manufactured in China, and distributed in the U.S. by American Water Heater.

How can I determine the age of an Ariston water heater from the serial number?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Ariston has a rather long and complicated serial number system. Here’s how it works:

The first seven digits are the product number.
The next two digits are the product manufacture code.
The next two digits are the year of manufacture.

What is the First Hour Rating (FHR) of a water heater?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The U.S. Department of Energy requires that the FHR of storage water heaters be printed on the yellow EnergyGuide on the side of the water heater. The First Hour Rating is defined as “the number of gallons of hot water the heater can supply per hour, starting...

What is the probability of having high radon in a Florida house?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Florida Department of Health keeps statistics on the test results of all licensed radon professionals in the Florida, and you can find out the percentage of tested homes in your zip code that exceeded the 4.0 p/ci maxium set by the EPA at: http://dchpexternalapps.doh.state.fl.us/radon/default.aspx

Should I buy a house with galvanized steel water pipes?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Because galvanized steel water pipe has not been used in new residential construction since around the late 1960s, all the pipe that is still in place is past the end of its expected lifespan. Invisible internal corrosion of the pipe means leakage is likely soon,...

Does the buyer or seller of a home pay for radon mitigation when the radon test comes back high?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Like everything else in a real estate transaction, it’s a negotiation. Usually the seller pays for a mitigation system when a radon test comes back over 4.0 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/l), but sometimes the cost is split between buyer and seller, and occasionally...

Is it alright to disconnect the washing machine drain from the septic tank and divert it to the ground in the yard?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The washing machine drain water is classified as “gray water” because it likely to be contaminated with fecal matter from underwear or diapers that contains ecoli bacteria, so it must be drained to a septic or sewer system. Gray water is allowed, however, to...

Is wood rot found on a home inspection considered serious?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Most houses than a few years old and have wood siding and/or trim will have a few spots of wood rot, most likely at the bottom of corner and door drim, and possibly on wood window sills. Small areas of wood rot can be repaired with a wood filler or the section...

What is the difference between gray water and black water in the plumbing code?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Here’s how the difference is defined by the Florida Building Code (FBC):

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

  To learn more about septic tank systems, see these other blog posts:

• What are...

A light is required over a stair after how many steps/risers?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

All stairs are required to have lighting, but interior stairs with six or more risers require a switch for lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs. The riser is the vertical part of the steps and the horizontal part is called a tread. The type of switch...

Do Park Model trailers have a HUD plate?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Most park models are built under the American National Standards Institute’s ANSI Code for Park Models, except that the 400 square foot maximum is allowed to be raised to 500 square feet, in Florida only, when the unit is built to HUD standards for RV park models....

When did the code first require electric receptacle outlets to be polarized?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Although polarized outlets and plugs were introduced in the 1880s, they were not popular at first and did not become standard until the mid-20th century. The earliest National Electric Code (NEC) that we can find that references polarized receptacles is the 1962...

Can electric receptacle outlets be spaced closer than the 6-foot code requirement?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The maximum spacing between receptacles, according to the National Electric Code, has been set at 12-feet since 1956—with no point along a wall being more than 6-feet from a receptacle. This is where the often-quoted “6-foot code requirement” comes from.

Why is there a water hose connected to the back of the clothes dryer?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

One of the features that some of the high-end clothes dryers offer is a “steam cycle” for wrinkle removal. A cold water supply hose connection at the back of the machine serves this cycle.  It’s a little hard to see in the photo below, but the hose at the arrow,...

Can a house have more than one septic tank?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Yes, and the reason a second tank and drainfield is necessary usually has nothing to do with providing additional gallons of tank capacity. Plumbing drains work by gravity, and the drain pipes need a minimum of 1/8” to 1/4” per foot of downward slope for the...

Where are sinkholes most likely to occur in Florida?

Friday, October 26, 2018

The “Top 10” Florida counties with the highest incidence of sinkhole activity are Pasco, Hernando, Hillsborough, Marion, Pinellas, Citrus, Polk, Orange, Seminole, and Lake counties. Hernado, Pasco, and Hillborough alone account for two-thirds of all the sinkhole...

How does a repaired sink hole under a house affect its market value?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Houses that have had sinkhole repairs sell for around 10% less than a comparable house that has not had previous sinkhole problems. A 2016 joint study by risk management professors at Florida State University and University of South Florida pegged it at 9%, and...

What is the required water testing for an FHA, VA, or USDA mortgage application?

Friday, October 26, 2018

The water must be evaluated by a certified testing lab, and the sample taken according to a procedure specified by the lab. It is often referred to as a “VA package” and includes checking levels of lead and nitrates, confirming that ph is within an acceptable...

How do I get insurance if my home can't pass a 4-point inspection?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Most insurance companies require a satisfactory 4-point inspection report be submitted to them before they will insure an older home—typically more than 40 to 50 years old or so, depending on the company. The purpose of the inspection is to determine if there...

Is it illegal to remove the HUD tag (verification label) from a mobile/manufactured home?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

HUD has extensive specifications for the design and installation of the required “red tag” on each unit of a mobile home, which you can read about at our blog post What does the HUD tag look like and where do I find it on a mobile home?.  But there is no government...

Do I need to have two exterior exit doors in my house?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

An exterior exit door is called an “egress” door in the building codes. Just one is the minimum requirement, and it must provide direct access from the living areas of the home to the exterior without traveling through a garage. See our blog post How many exit...

Can PVC pipe be used for indoor plumbing?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

It depends on what you want to use it for. PVC pipe is approved by the building codes for drain, waste, and vent (DWV) pipes, but not for water distribution inside the walls of a house. To learn why, see our blog post Why can't PVC be used for water pipe inside...

What are the most common problems with older houses?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

We love old houses and have owned homes from the 1930s, 1950s, and 1970s, along with remodeling homes of every vintage for clients, including 100-plus year old wood Victorians. Gainesville has homes dating back to the beginning of the twentieth-century and beyond,...

Is it common for an insurance company to require an inspection?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

It has definitely become more common over the past decade for insurance companies to require an inspection report before insuring an older house.

A 4-point inspection is the most often requested. The four points are: roof, electrical, plumbing, and...

Why did I get no discounts or only a small discount from my wind mitigation inspection?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

It’s frustrating for a homeowner to pay good money for a wind mitigation inspection and then be told by their insurance agent that their report will not get them any discounts—or just a few dollars a year. In some cases, you have already received discounts based...

Does a home inspector check the plumbing under the floor slab?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

There are two types of plumbing pipes under the floor slab in a modern “concrete slab on grade” home: pressurized water supply pipe and unpressurized drain pipe. Any leakage of the water supply piping, even a small fracture, causes visible problems pretty quickly--whether...

What is the wind mitigation inspection for homeowner's insurance?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

What your insurance agent calls a “wind letter” or “wind mitigation form” is officially known as the “Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form.” The purpose of the form is to verify hurricane-resistant structural features of your home so that you can receive...

What different types of specialized home inspections can I get?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Home inspectors are generalists. We are familiar all of the components of a home and recognize the symptoms of their defects, but sometimes further evaluation by a specialist is necessary—or just a sensible part of due diligence in evaluating your potential home...

What happens at a home inspection?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The first thing to know is that a home does not “pass” or “fail” an inspection. The inspector simply observes the condition of the structure and its components, along with any safety issues, then makes repair recommendations—in a report based on a non-invasive,...

What should I wear to a home inspection?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

There is no dress code for a home inspection, but the clothing you wear should definitely be comfortable and allow for the possibility of a few smudges and stains if you want to tag along with the inspector. Practical shoes are always a good idea. 

...

What is a roof certification letter/report?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

It’s a written assessment of the age and condition of a roof prepared by a licensed construction professional, typically a roofing contractor; but it can be done by a licensed building contractor or home inspector. The report is also sometimes called a “roof...

What are the best tips for buying a used mobile home?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Here’s our “Top 5” tips for evaluating the condition of a manufactured home you are considering buying:

Determine the level of construction quality. The better quality homes will have a longer life with fewer maintenance problems over the years. Read...

Does a modular home have a serial number?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

A modular home in Florida will have a DCA (Department of Community Affairs) sticker somewhat similar to the data plate of a manufactured home, usually located in the master bedroom closet, along with a second, smaller sticker that has the Florida DCA logo and...

What home improvements require a permit?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Years ago, when each Florida county or city adopted their own building codes, there was often a minimum of around $500, below which a permit was not required for non-structural home improvements. Those days are long gone. Here’s what the 2014 Florida Building...

What is the average lifespan of a water heater?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Most tank-type water heaters last 10 to 20 years, with the average age of replacement between 12 and 14 years. But there are four variables that affect the lifespan:

Quality of manufacture - As your would expect, the premium-priced water heaters with...

What are the common problems of different types of house foundations?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

There is no single, perfect foundation type. Each is chosen by the architect or builder based on a particular site’s topography and soil, along with kind of structure the foundation will support. Also, every region has a customary local foundation type. A coastal...

Can I determine the year of a manufactured/mobile home from the HUD tag (red tag)?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

You cannot find out the age of a mobile home directly the HUD tag. It is not encoded in the tag number, but can be found on the data plate inside the home. If the data plate has been painted over or is missing, there’s still hope. You can submit the HUD number...

How can I reduce the risk of an expensive surprise when buying a house sight unseen?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

When time or distance constraints make it necessary to buy a house before actually setting foot inside, there are several things you can do to reduce the risk of unexpected problems when you move in. Here’s our “Top 5” list and, since we are home inspectors,...

What tips do first-time homebuyers need to know to get a better home inspection?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Here’s our countdown of the “TOP 10” tips that will get you a better home inspection for your money if you are a first-time homebuyer:

Go to the websites, check their credentials, and talk to a several home inspectors before hiring one. Want to know...

How can I tell if the exterior walls of a house are concrete block (CBS) or wood or brick?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

This question seems like a no-brainer. Concrete block houses have a stucco finish, wood frame houses are faced with siding, and brick houses are (duh!) brick. But you could be wrong if you use this common-sense approach, because concrete block houses can be faced...

What is the longest stair run allowed?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The maximum length of a run of stairs is not measured in the number of risers, treads, or length of the stringer. It is defined by the International Residential Code (IRC) and Florida Building Code (FBC) as a maximum of 12 feet of vertical height between floor...

What are the hazards to avoid when going into an attic?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

There’s plenty of ways to injure yourself in an attic, as we have learned first-hand from thousands of attic inspections that left a few scars as reminders. But it breaks down into three basic categories of dangers: 1) getting into and out of the attic, 2) moving...

What is the building code for manufactured/mobile homes in Florida?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The first step, construction of the home in a factory is required to comply with standards established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which is why mobile homes are often referred to as HUD-code homes. Although the HUD code is a...

Which water pipes are an insurance problem and possibly uninsurable?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Galvanized steel water pipe was used extensively in residential construction from the 1950s through the late 1970s. The other problematic pipe material is polybutylene, often referred to by the acronym “PB,” and it was installed from the mid-1970s to mid-1990s.

Should I buy a house with a radon mitigation system?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

There are several sensible questions our customers ask when considering the purchase a home with a radon mitigation system. Here’s the top four:

 Is a mitigation system actually effective at keeping the radon level low? - Yes, it is. Radon mitigation...

Should I buy a house with a high radon level?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

If the test result comes back at 4.0 pCi/l (pico-curies per liter of air) or above, which is the where the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends mitigation to lower it to a safer level, the home is sill buyable and you have several ways to deal with...

How can I tell the age of a Coleman or Coleman-Evcon air conditioner or furnace from the serial number?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

There are four variations of the Coleman and Coleman-Evcon serial numbers. The first one, which was used through 1991, has the year encoded as the second two digits of the serial number. The example shown below was manufactured in 1979.



...

What does a home inspection include?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

There are two categories of things that are included in a basic home inspection: 1) the minimum list of items that must be inspected according to the requirements of the local governmental jurisdiction and/or the standards of the professional association to which...

How can I determine if a house is structurally sound?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The only way to determine that a house is in good condition structurally, without opening up walls or other invasive testing, is to look for signs of structural distress. No visual evidence of structural problems means the house is likely stable and sound.

What is the tempered label on glass at windows and sliding glass doors called?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

It is officially called a “glass monogram,” but usually referred to in the construction trades as the “bug.” You can learn more about how to recognize tempered glass, decoding the bug, and where tempered glass is required at our blog posts How can I tell if a...

What is a WDO inspection?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

WDO is a acronym that stands for Wood Destroying Organism. Although a WDO inspection is commonly called a “termite inspection,” it also covers several types of wood-destroying beetles and wood-decay fungi (wood rot)—all of which can damage the wood structure...

Who can do a home inspection in the State of Florida?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Anyone offering home inspection services after July, 2011, must be licensed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) before they can obtain a local business license. To read more about it, go to our blog post How can I check to...

How can I tell how old my water heater is?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The year a water heater was manufactured is encoded in the serial number at the data plate on the side or top of the water heater. It is typically the first two or second two numbers in the sequence, or may be a letter—which requires referring to letter-code...

Does a home inspector expect the electrical system of an older house to meet current code standards?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The standard code used for residential electrical systems is the National Electrical Code (NEC). It is recognized in all 50 states, and updated every three years, Everything from minor tweaks to big changes occur each cycle. For a house built in 1974, the electrical...