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

What is a roof-over?

Tuesday, May 4, 2021
What is a roof-over?

A “roof-over” is when an existing roof remains in place and a new roof is applied on top of it. This is also called a “roof recover." Although it is usually done with an asphalt shingle roof, the new roof can be any roofing material. To learn more, see our blog posts Does a roof with multiple layers of shingles last longer? and How can I tell if a...

What is a roof recover?

Tuesday, May 4, 2021
What is a roof recover?

A “roof recover” is when an existing roof remains in place and a new roof is applied on top of it. This is also called a “roof-over." Although it is usually done with an asphalt shingle roof, the new roof can be any roofing material. To learn more, see our blog posts Does a roof with multiple layers of shingles last longer? and How can I tell if a...

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

Monday, May 3, 2021
How do I determine the age of a SioGreen water heater from the serial number?

Most brands of water heaters have the year of manufacture encoded in the serial number, but SioGreen does not. You have to call their tech support line at (888) 270-8452 with the serial number, and they will provide a manufacture date.
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Here’s links to a collection of more blog posts...

How does InterNACHI's We'll Buy Back Your Home Guarantee work?

Friday, April 30, 2021
How does InterNACHI's We'll Buy Back Your Home Guarantee work?

Many home inspectors that are members of InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors) include a home buy-back guarantee with their inspections. “If we miss anything we’ll buy your home back” and "at full purchase price."
    InterNACHI stands behind this guarantee, and has bought back houses where the inspector missed a...

What is that new termite in Florida that also eats live trees?

Monday, April 26, 2021
What is that new termite in Florida that also eats live trees?

It’s been tagged as the “Asian termite” because they originated in Southeast Asia, but a proper taxonomic designation is "Captotermes gestroi." This new pest in Florida poses a double threat: they consume the wood structure of buildings just like other termites, but also attack live trees. And, because Asians work from the core of the trunk outward,...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Florida wind mitigation inspection

Sunday, April 25, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Florida wind mitigation inspection

A wind mitigation inspection can save you hundreds of dollars on your homeowners windstorm insurance premium—or not, depending on how many hurricane-resistant construction features are built into your home. Here’s links to a collection of answers to often-asked questions about WIND MITIGATION INSPECTIONS in Florida:
• What is the wind mitigation...

I replaced a dead GFCI and the new one doesn’t work. What’s wrong?

Saturday, April 24, 2021
I replaced a dead GFCI and the new one doesn’t work. What’s wrong?

A GFCI-receptacle right out of the box is tripped, and will not reset and function until it is wired correctly and the power turned back on. The reset button won't work and the receptacle remains dead, even though the wiring to it is live.
   You need to connect the black (hot) wires to the brass screws and white (neutral) wires to the silver...

How do I tell the age of a Eccotemp tankless water heater from the serial number?

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
How do I tell the age of a Eccotemp tankless water heater from the serial number?

The first two numbers of the serial number are the year of manufacture. The 3rd number is the month for January thru September. The 3rd and 4th numbers are the month for October thru December. So the serial number ECC20290387 means the unit was produced in February, 2020.
    To determine the age of another manufacturer/brand of water heater,...

What is granular loss on a shingle roof?

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
What is granular loss on a shingle roof?

The tiny bits of ground rock granules that cover the surface of an asphalt shingle roof add color and texture to a roof. But, more importantly, they protect the shingle material below from deterioration caused by the sun’s UV-rays. And, as the granules loosen and fall away over time, this accelerates the deterioration of the roof surface. 
...

How can I tell the age of a Thermalux tankless water heater from the serial number?

Monday, April 19, 2021
How can I tell the age of a Thermalux tankless water heater from the serial number?

The Thermalux serial number is 12 digits, and the first four digits are the year of manufacture, followed by a period. The next 2 digits are the month, followed by a dash and the last 6 digits. So the serial number 2020.10-043012 means the unit was manufactured in October, 2020.
  To determine the age of another manufacturer/brand of water heater,...

How can I tell the age of a Paloma tankless water heater from the serial number?

Sunday, April 18, 2021
How can I tell the age of a Paloma tankless water heater from the serial number?

The third and fourth numbers of the serial number on the data plate, after several letters, are the year of manufacture for a Paloma tankless water heater. So the example shown above was manufactured in 2007. To determine the age of another manufacturer/brand of water heater, go to How do I determine the age of my water heater?
• • • • • • •...

What would cause a roof to fail the wind mitigation inspection?

Thursday, April 15, 2021
What would cause a roof to fail the wind mitigation inspection?

When we pull up at a house to do a wind mitigation inspection, the homeowner often greets us with “So you’re here to do the roof inspection, right?” But, actually, an inspection of the condition of the roof is not part of a wind mitigation report and an inspector does not go on the roof. But we do verify, with a copy of the most recent roof permit,...

How can I get a better wind mitigation report and reduce the cost of my windstorm insurance in Florida?

Wednesday, April 14, 2021
How can I get a better wind mitigation report and reduce the cost of my windstorm insurance in Florida?

Here’s a breakdown of the seven categories in the Florida Wind Mitigation Form (OIR-B1-1802, Rev. 01/12) and how to get, or improve, your discount in each one:
1) Building Code - This discount is given for homes that were built after the first version of the state-wide Florida Building Code took effect in March 1, 2002. For homes in Miami-Dade...

How do I find the size in tons of a Bosch heat pump?

Wednesday, April 14, 2021
How do I find the size in tons of a Bosch heat pump?

You can determine the “nominal” condenser tonnage of your Bosch 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 Bosch,...

How do I find the age of a Bosch heat pump from the serial number?

Wednesday, April 14, 2021
How do I find the age of a Bosch heat pump from the serial number?

Look at the second group of numbers, and the first one of those three digits is the year of manufacture. The serial number shown below indicates the heat pump condenser was produced in 2017.

    To find out the age of another brand of air conditioner or heat pump, go to How do I determine the age of my air conditioner?,  which has a listing...

What are typical copper service entrance wire/cable sizes for the electrical service to a house?

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Here’s a listing of the standard copper service entrance wire sizes for residential 3-wire single-phase service. Wire sizes are AWG (American Wire Gauge), and adjustments may be necessary due to temperature rating or length of wire run. An often-used rule-of-thumb is to jump up one wire size for each 100 feet of a long run.
SERVICE SIZE     WIRE...

Why is my pool ladder rusting?

Sunday, April 4, 2021
Why is my pool ladder rusting?

A stainless steel pool ladder with premature rust or pitting is usually caused by either low or high salt at a salt water pool, or low ph at a chlorine pool. The example shown in the photos above and below was at a pool at a vacant house with the red “low salt” warning light lit at the chlorine generator panel. So that was likely the primary cause.

How can I determine the age of Gree heat pump from the serial number?

Saturday, April 3, 2021
How can I determine the age of Gree heat pump from the serial number?

The third and fourth digits of the serial number are the year of manufacture of a Gree heat pump. This condenser was manufactured in 2018. Gree also lists the date of manufacture in a year/month format on the data plate.

    To find out the age of another brand of air conditioner or heat pump, go to How do I determine the age of my air...

Should I buy a house with popcorn ceilings?

Saturday, April 3, 2021
Should I buy a house with popcorn ceilings?

There are two reasons to be concerned about buying a house with popcorn ceilings. The first is the well-known safety issue of possible asbestos contamination of the vermiculite granules, and the other is the possibly that it will reduce the perceived value of the home for aesthetic reasons. Popcorn ceilings, like 30-year-old kitchen cabinets, are...

How can I find the size in tons of a Franklin heat pump or air conditioner?

Thursday, April 1, 2021
How can I find the size in tons of a Franklin heat pump or air conditioner?

You can determine the “nominal” condenser tonnage 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 Franklin,...

How do I tell the age of a Franklin heat pump or air conditioner?

Sunday, March 28, 2021
How do I tell the age of a Franklin heat pump or air conditioner?

Franklin is a brand of inverter-type HVAC system manufactured by Goodman and uses their serial number encoding system. The first two numbers of the serial number are the year of manufacture. So the data plate shown below indicates the unit was manufactured in 2018.

    To find out the age of another brand of air conditioner or heat pump,...

Does tenting (fumigation) kill subterranean termites?

Sunday, March 28, 2021
Does tenting (fumigation) kill subterranean termites?

We inspected a rural 1938-vintage house last week that won the trifecta for wood-destroying pests. It was infested with drywood termites, subterranean termites, and wood destroying beetles. Tenting kills anything above ground, so it eliminates the drywood termites and beetles, along with any subterraneans inside the house at the time of tenting. 

How do I determine the age of a GE electrical panel?

Sunday, March 28, 2021
How do I determine the age of a GE electrical panel?

GE load centers have an eight-digit serial number of two letters followed by six numbers, and the second letter indicates the year of manufacture, based on a repeating 12-year cycle. The serial number is usually located on a small sticker on, or near, the wiring diagram on the inside of the panel door.A = 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977D = 2014, 2002, 1990,...

How do I determine the age of a Siemens electrical panel?

Saturday, March 27, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Siemens electrical panel?

Siemens load centers have the date of manufacture stamped in ink on the back of the panel box near the bottom as shown above. In some panels, the date may be emboosed in the metal instead of stamped in ink. The date may be partially concealed by wiring in the panel. We recommend that you do not open a panel to look for the date stamp unless you are...

How do I determine the age of an electrical panel?

Saturday, March 27, 2021
How do I determine the age of an electrical panel?

There is usually a serial number code or date code on a sticker inside the panel door or panel box interior of the load center. Sometimes it’s just stamped on the box itself. Each manufacturer has their own code and some of them, like Square D, have changed their encoding system over the years. Here’s links to our articles about about the manufacturers...

How do I determine the age of an I-T-E electrical panel?

Saturday, March 27, 2021
How do I determine the age of an I-T-E electrical panel?

I-T-E load centers used a 5-digit date code of a single letter followed by four numbers. The last two digits are the year of manufacture, and the 1st digit is the month, encoded as: A = January, B = February, C = March, D = April, E = May, F = June, G = July, H = August, J = September, K = October, L = November, and M = December. The 2nd and 3rd digits...

How do I determine the age of a Cutler-Hammer electrical panel?

Saturday, March 27, 2021
How do I determine the age of a Cutler-Hammer electrical panel?

Cutler-Hammer load centers use a five-digit date code that’s at the bottom of the data sticker inside the box at the side. First digit identifies which plant manufactured it, second digit is the year, third and fourth digits are the week, and last digit is a code for the decade. So the second and final digits are the ones you want to look for. To...

How do I determine the age of an Eaton electrical panel?

Saturday, March 27, 2021
How do I determine the age of an Eaton electrical panel?

Eaton load centers uses a five-digit date code that’s at the bottom of the data sticker inside the box at the side. First digit identifies which plant manufactured it, second digit is the year, third and fourth digits are the week, and last digit is a code for the decade. So the second and final digits are the ones you want to look for. To decode...

What does over-fused mean?

Friday, March 26, 2021
What does over-fused mean?

Over-fused means that the amperage rating of a fuse or breaker exceeds the amperage rating of the wiring in the circuit. The main purpose of a an overcurrent device is to prevent overheating when too much current is flowing through the wiring; so, when properly sized, it trips to disconnect the circuit before the hot wires start a fire.
    In...

How can I tell the size in tons of a Champion air conditioner or heat pump?

Saturday, March 20, 2021
How can I tell the size in tons of a Champion air conditioner or heat pump?

You can determine the “nominal” condenser tonnage 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 Champion,...

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