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Here's the 30 most recent of over 1,300 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

What causes drywall cracks in the ceilings and walls of a house?

Friday, April 19, 2019

Most drywall is installed over wood studs, but wood moves when the humidity and temperature in a house changes and drywall doesn’t. So something’s gotta give, and it’s the drywall. This is the basis for many of the annoying cracks not caused by an underlying structural problem. 

    "If someone invented wood today it would never be approved...

How many tons is my Payne air conditioner or heat pump?

Friday, April 19, 2019

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 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 Payne, you should...

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

Friday, April 19, 2019

The third and fourth numbers in the serial number on the data plate are the year of manufacture for Payne, so the one shown below is from 2008. This format has been used from the mid-1980s to the present.

    The more recent Payne units we have seen don’t require you to know which numbers are the year of manufacture. Some of them, like...

Are soffit/eave vents required by code for attic ventilation?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Although soffit vents are not specifically mentioned as required, both the International Residential Code (IRC) and Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC-R806.2), require an attic ventilation area of at least 1/150 of the area being ventilated, which works out to be about one inch of ventilation opening for every square foot of attic...

How many tons is my Heil heat pump or air conditioner?

Monday, April 15, 2019

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 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 Heil, you should...

Can I install a commercial (wall-mounted flushometer) toilet in my home?

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Although we have done nearly 8,000 home inspections over the years, yesterday was the first time we came across a flushometer toilet in a residence. The one shown above is in a home designed by a mid-century modern architect who thought it was suitable for his personal residence. Unfortunately, the toilet has a problem: water pressure at all other...

Do replacement bedroom windows have to meet the current emergency egress standards of the Florida Building Code?

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

No. Any repairs, alterations, or additons to a home must comply with the Florida Building Code - Existing Building, which has separate standards than the Florida Building Code that is used for new construction. It is specifically for work done on existing structures and does not require that everything be brought up to current code for new buildings....

How many tons is my Grandaire air conditioner or heat pump?

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

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 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 Grandaire, you...

How many tons is my EcoTemp air conditioner or heat pump?

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

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 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 EcoTemp, you should...

Can a local building department choose to not enforce selected parts of the Florida Building Code?

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

No. The Florida Building Code is a statewide code and all parts of the code must be enforced by each local building department. However, the local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) can create an additional requirement, known as a local amendment. “But that local amendment must be presented to the Florida Building Commission with substantive documentation...

How many tons is my Affinity air conditioner or heat pump?

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

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 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 York Affinity,...

How many tons is my Bard air conditioner or heat pump?

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

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 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 Bard, you should...

How many tons is my Cumberland air conditioner or heat pump?

Monday, April 8, 2019

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 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 Cumberland, you...

How many tons is my Daikin air conditioner or heat pump?

Monday, April 8, 2019

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 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 Daikin, you should...

When did bathroom vent fans first become a code requirement for a bathroom without a window?

Friday, April 5, 2019

Mechanical ventilation of a bathroom with a vent fan has never been a code requirement, but it became an alternative to an openable window shortly after manufacturers started making exhaust fans. Building codes dating all the way back to the 1927 Uniform Building Code have required that “all rooms used to eating, living and/or sleeping purposes shall...

What is the required clearance for access and working space in front of an air handler for a furnace, heat pump, or air conditioning system?

Friday, April 5, 2019

Although an air handler is part of a home's HVAC system, it is an electric appliance. So the National Electrical Code requirement (NEC 110.26[A]) for equipment “likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing or maintenance while energized” applies, which specifies a working space 36” deep and 30” wide in front of the air handler. 

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When did the building code begin requiring bathroom vent fans to discharge to the exterior (not the attic or crawl space)?

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Although bathroom vent fans have been an acceptable alternative to a window for the required ventilation of a bathroom for many years, the requirement that it be ducted to the exterior did not come along until 2003 or 2006, depending on how you interpret the International Residential Code (IRC) and the corresponding Residential Edition of the Florida...

How many tons is my Airquest air conditioner or heat pump?

Thursday, April 4, 2019

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 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 Airquest, you...

How can I tell the age of an Airquest air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace from the serial number?

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The first two numbers, after a single letter, in the serial number are the year of manufacture of the unit. So the data plate below indicates that the condenser was manufactured in 1993.

Airquest is aHVAC line of HVAC products that was manufactured by Inter-City Products until 1999, when the company was acquired by International Comfort...

Which trees are most likely to fall over on your house in a hurricane?

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The most important—but often overlooked—consideration when selecting a tree to plant near your home in Florida is how resistant a particular species is to toppling over in a severe thunderstorm or hurricane. Certain popular landscape trees are more prone to failure in a storm than others. Pamela Crawford, author of the book Stormscaping - Landscaping...

Why is buying an old house sometimes the best choice?

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Although we have written extensively about the problems to look for when buying an older home, there are also a number of advantages:

Better location -  Older homes are often close to shopping and entertainment districts, and give you a shorter commute to work.

More choices - The average age of a house in America is 37 years,...

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1940s house?

Friday, March 29, 2019

The 1940s was a decade split down the middle by the end of World War 2 in 1945. Construction of new homes was slowed by the war, and then dramatically sped up when it ended by a housing shortage and surging post-war economy. The way homes were built also changed during the ‘40s, and the best examples we can think of for comparison are the pre-war...

How many tons is Ameristar air conditioner or heat pump?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

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 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 Ameristar, you...

How many tons is my Nordyne air conditioner or heat pump?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

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 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 Nordyne, you should...

What are the basic facts about sinkholes?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Sinkholes occur naturally throughout central and north Florida, where a limestone layer underlies the soil and can be easily dissolved by water. They can be the kind that swallow up houses and cars, or smaller “chimney” sinkholes like the one shown at right.

    Although newly formed sinkholes are a problem, especially when they occur under...

How many tons is my York air conditioner or heat pump?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

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 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 York, you should...

How many tons is my International Comfort air conditioner or heat pump?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

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 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 International...

How quickly do I need to reduce a high radon level in my house?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Living in a house with an elevated radon level (above 4.0 pCi/L) does not automatically mean you will get lung cancer. But it increases the likelihood of getting lung cancer and, the longer you live with elevated radon, the more likely you are to have lung cancer later on.

    So, staying in a house for a few weeks while waiting for a radon...

Why is some PVC pipe black?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The “black PVC” is actually a different chemical composition of plastic pipe called ABS, which stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. To learn more about it, see our blog post What is the difference between PVC and ABS plumbing pipe?



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What causes a vertical crack in an exterior concrete block or brick wall?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Vertical cracks are rare in a concrete block or brick wall, because the mortar is usually weaker structurally and the crack will zig-zag along the mortar joints, only occasionally fracturing directly through the brick or block as it continues along. The near-vertical cracking could be caused by settlement, heaving, or soil subsidence due to tree roots,...