Here's the 30 most recent of over 2500 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

Can you coat a TPO roof to extend its life?

Thursday, February 25, 2021
Can you coat a TPO roof to extend its life?

Yes, there are multiple brands of coatings, primarily elastomeric or acrylic, that will extend the life of a TPO (ThermoPlastic Olefin) roof. Here's a few considerations to review before you proceed:• The roof should be old enough to have lost its shiny finish, at least 5 to 7 years, so the coating can adhere properly.• Roof surface must be clean.•...

How do I determine the age of a Hayward pool heater from the serial number?

Tuesday, February 23, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Hayward pool heater from the serial number?

The 5th and 6th digits of the serial number of a Hayward heat pump pool heater are the year of manufacture, and the next two are the month. So the example shown below was produced in August, 2017. This serial number system has been in effect since May, 2010.

    For models manufactured from 2005 to mid-2010, a typical serial number looked...

Which are the male and female flanges of a metal roof panel?

Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Which are the male and female flanges of a metal roof panel?

The male side of a fastener-type metal roof panel, such as a 5V or PBR profile, looks the same as the female side—except that it has a short and flat extension at the end. The male flange fits into the female flange and sits under it. The male flange is also referred to as the underlap, and the female as the overlap. Here’s examples of it in three...

Does a new construction house give false high radon readings?

Sunday, February 21, 2021
Does a new construction house give false high radon readings?

The new house smell that hits you when you walk in the door is caused by the off-gassing of VOC's (Volatile Organic Chemicals) in new paint, carpet, cabinets and other building materials. But radon is not being released from them. It comes from the soil beneath a home and enters through cracks in the floor, while the VOC’s dissipate over time and...

Is an inspector required to open an electrical panel cover (dead front) during a four point inspection?

Saturday, February 20, 2021
Is an inspector required to open an electrical panel cover (dead front) during a four point inspection?

Yes, an inspector is required to open an electrical panel dead front during a four point inspection. According to the published standards of Citizens Insurance of Florida, an inspector must provide photos of both the front of the panel, with the door open, and “electrical box with the panel off.” Citizens is one of the largest Florida insurers and...

When did the Florida code start requiring roof sheathing nails to be ring-shank instead of smooth?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
When did the Florida code start requiring roof sheathing nails to be ring-shank instead of smooth?

The 2004 edition of the Florida Building Code was the first to require roof sheathing nails to be 8d ring-shank type. Previously, 8d common (smooth) nails were acceptable. The 2004 code went into effect on October 1, 2005. 
    The code change was the result of research done by Richard Alvarez, a professor at the Hurricane Research Center of...

When were staples banned for roof sheathing attachment in Florida?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
When were staples banned for roof sheathing attachment in Florida?

Staples for roof sheathing attachment were excluded in the first edition of the statewide Florida Building Code on its effective date of March 1, 2002. They just don’t have the resistance to uplift in a storm comparable that's to nails. 
    Hurricane Andrew, which caused massive roof failures as it swept across Florida in August, 1992, was the...

How do I determine the age of a Titan tankless water heater?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Titan tankless water heater?

Look for a sticker at the bottom of the water heater that says “Date of Manufacture (DOM),” which will state it in a month/day/year format. If the sticker is missing you can call the manufacturer, Niagara Industries at (305) 876-9010, with the serial number and they will give you the production date. 
    The Titan electric tankless water heater...

How long does a home thermostat last?

Monday, February 15, 2021
How long does a home thermostat last?

You can expect a residential thermostat to last 10 to 25 years, with an average of 15 years. Here’s a few signs that it’s time to replace your thermostat:1) Actual room temperature and thermostat don’t match.2) Display image garbled on digital thermostat.3) System won’t turn on or won’t turn off.4) Thermostat screen blank or unresponsive to controls.

How do I find the age of an American water heater from the serial number?

Saturday, February 13, 2021
How do I find the age of an American water heater from the serial number?

The first two numbers of the serial number are the year of manufacture for water heaters made by American Water Heater Company. So the data plate shown below indicates 2004. 

    American manufactures several different brands of its own, such as Proline and Craftmaster, along with others for companies and retailers like Whirlpool and Ace...

What is the average life expectancy of house a/c and heating ducts?

Saturday, February 13, 2021
What is the average life expectancy of house a/c and heating ducts?

You can expect residential ducts to last 25 to 70 years, with an average of 45 years. The big spread is due to the variables of materials, workmanship, and maintenance. Flexible ducts, for example, will have a shorter life than hard ducts. They also sag over time and restrict air flow if poorly suspended. 
    A homeowner’s tolerance for energy...

Do Park Model homes require two exit/egress doors?

Thursday, February 11, 2021

It depends on whether you are talking about a home built to ANSI standards or to HUD standards. ANSI Park Models are manufactured to comply with the American National Standards Institute’s ANSI A119.5 standard, and need only one exit door. They are also limited to a max of 400 square feet.
    HUD Park Models, on the other hand, can be up to...

Is an attached garage required to have a door to the house or exterior?

Sunday, February 7, 2021
Is an attached garage required to have a door to the house or exterior?

A garage is not considered a living space by the International Residential Code (IRC), so it’s not required to be connected to the house—although a door to house is both convenient and typical. A person door to the exterior from the garage is also not required and, if installed, it is not allowed to be counted as an emergency egress route.
...

How do I determine the age of a Tempra tankless water heater from the serial number?

Sunday, February 7, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Tempra tankless water heater from the serial number?

Tempra tankless water heaters are manufactured by Stiebel Eltron and follow the same serial number format for determining their age as the company's tank-type water heaters. Go to our blog post How can I determine the age of a Stiebel Eltron water heater from the serial number?
    To determine the age of another manufacturer/brand of water heater,...

Can you use an electrical panel as a feed-through raceway for wiring that is not connected to it?

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Yes, wiring can pass through a panel without needing to have any electrical connections to it, according to the National Electrical Code (NEC-312.8). But the additional wiring cannot make the box become overpacked [NEC-312.8(A)(1,2)], and a warning label must be applied to the enclosure that identifies the closest disconnecting means for the feed-through...

Is a borate treatment effective for termite prevention?

Monday, February 1, 2021

Liquid borate treatments are used by some builders in our area for creating the ground-level termite barrier required by the State of Florida for new houses. It’s sprayed over the first three feet of wood up from the floor slab and the solution usually has a green tint to mark where it has been applied. The treatment is environmentally friendly and...

How do I look for yard drainage problems when buying a house?

Sunday, January 31, 2021
How do I look for yard drainage problems when buying a house?

You might get lucky and visit a house during the rainy season or after a thunderstorm and find areas of standing water and soggy soil—like in the photo above. This makes it easier to figure out some, but not necessarily all, of the site drainage problems a house may have. Here’s a list of questions to answer as you walk around the property:
•...

Is there a time limit for installation of tie-downs for a mobile/manufactured home in Florida?

Thursday, January 28, 2021
Is there a time limit for installation of tie-downs for a mobile/manufactured home in Florida?

Florida requires that tie-downs be installed to the state’s standards for a mobile home that is used as a dwelling no later than 14 days after set-up, per Florida Code 320.8325(6). Park Model trailer/RV homes have a longer grace period. They must have tie-downs in place by 45 days. 
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Is there a time limit for installation of tie-downs for a Park Model trailer/RV in Florida?

Thursday, January 28, 2021
Is there a time limit for installation of tie-downs for a Park Model trailer/RV in Florida?

Florida requires that  tie-downs be installed to the state’s standards for a Park Model trailer/RV that is used as a dwelling no later than 45 days after set-up, per Florida Code 320.8325(6). Mobile homes have a shorter grace period. They must have tie-downs in place by 14 days.  
 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •...

What is the breaker with a blue test button?

Tuesday, January 26, 2021
What is the breaker with a blue test button?

If the breaker looks like the example above, and it’s in a Square D panel, then it is an early AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter). These breakers are in panels from the early 2000’s. Unfortunately, this model had problems and was recalled by Square D back in November, 2004. Newer ones are updated to be CAFCI's (Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters).

Can you put a receptacle outlet in a pantry closet?

Sunday, January 24, 2021
Can you put a receptacle outlet in a pantry closet?

Yes, you can put a receptacle outlet in a pantry, but it is not required by code. Also, if you do put a receptacle in closet, it must be AFCI-protected. For more details, go to our blog posts What is the code requirement for receptacle outlets in a closet? and Where is AFCI required for outlets in a house?      
    Also, check out our other...

Is a doorbell required by code for a house?

Sunday, January 24, 2021
Is a doorbell required by code for a house?

A doorbell is not required for single-family and duplex residences by the International Residential Code (IRC) or the National Electrical Code (NEC). But a doorbell, buzzer, chime, or other signalling device is code-mandated for main entry (egress) doors for each unit in multi-unit residential buildings. Also, see our blog post Can a doorbell transformer...

Can I get hurricane impact-rated windows for a mobile-manufactured home?

Thursday, January 21, 2021
Can I get hurricane impact-rated windows for a mobile-manufactured home?

Mobile homes constructed to be installed in Wind Zone 3 or Exposure D are rated to withstand high winds. Wind Zone 3 is located in the lower third of Florida, where the most severe hurricanes come ashore, and Exposure D (also called “D-Sticker”) is the category for any home installed within 1500 feet of the coastline all around the state—an even more...

Is it normal for a mobile home crawl space to be damp in Florida?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Is it normal for a mobile home crawl space to be damp in Florida?

Most of Florida has plenty of rainfall, especially during the summer months, plus high humidity, so moisture in the soil evaporates continuously from the ground under a mobile home. During periods of high rainfall or after a severe thunderstorm you can expect the soil to damp for several days.This is not a problem as long as there is enough ventilation...

Does my house need a heating system to pass a four point inspection?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Does my house need a heating system to pass a four point inspection?

Yes, a heating system is required and it must be “installed,” which means that a portable room space heater or a window air conditioner with a heating element is not acceptable. Here’s an example below from the Citizens Insurance four point inspection form.

    Also, see our blog posts What causes a house to fail a four point inspection? and...

Does a house need to have a back door?

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Does a house need to have a back door?

An exterior exit door is called an “egress” door by the building code and a second one is a good idea, both for convenience and having an alterna route out of the home for fire safety. But it is not required by the International Residential Code (IRC-R311.1) or the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code. Go to our blog post How many exit...

Can the total amps of all the breakers in an electrical panel be more than the amperage rating of the panel?

Monday, January 18, 2021
Can the total amps of all the breakers in an electrical panel be more than the amperage rating of the panel?

Yes, the total amps of all the breakers in a panel can exceed the amperage rating of the panel. There are a couple of reasons why this is allowed. First, every appliance and other load in a home is not turned on at the same time. And second, breakers for some appliances are rated at much more than the appliance uses when operating. A three-ton air...

ELECTRICAL - OLD AND OBSOLETE

Sunday, January 17, 2021
ELECTRICAL - OLD AND OBSOLETE

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about OLD AND OBSOLETE ELECTRICAL:
• What is rag wiring? 
• Is all cloth wiring dangerous? 
• When did they stop using aluminum wiring? 
• Is tinned copper wire safe? 
• Why is there a 3-phase breaker in a single phase electric panel with only two bus bars? 
• When did knob...

How old is a Pushmatic electrical panel? Is it safe?

Sunday, January 17, 2021
How old is a Pushmatic electrical panel? Is it safe?

Although the Pushmatic breaker design was first produced in the late 1930s, most panels and breakers date from about 1950 through 1970. We have heard that they were manufactured up until the mid-1980s, but have never seen a Pushmatic in a home built after the '60s. So any panel still around is a minimum of 50 years old, and probably much more. We...

How old is a Walker EQ Load Center electrical panel? Is it unsafe?

Thursday, January 14, 2021
How old is a Walker EQ Load Center electrical panel? Is it unsafe?

The Walker Electrical Company was founded by Ralph Walker in 1939 in Atlanta, Georgia. It was absorbed by I-T-E sometime in the 1950s, and then I-T-E itself went through several mergers beginning in 1968, and was eventually acquired by Siemens. The Walker brand appears to have been abandoned in the late 1960s, so any panel with a Walker namplate is...

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