Ask The Inspector
Q. What areas and elements of the bathroom will my inspector check? Will he check all of the bathrooms in the house?
A. Signs of moisture damage and the proper function of components are the key elements a property inspector will assess in any bathroom. The high moisture content in bathrooms means they’re a prime area for leaks or moisture damage. Your home inspector will check the sink, toilet, and shower or tub for signs of leaks or other damage. This includes examining wall and ceiling coverings, such as tile, for signs of cracks, missing seals or damaged grout.
Your inspector will also examine the water temperature and pressure by turning on faucets, tubs and showers, and sinks. He/she will also assess the size and type of piping coming into the house, which will give a better idea of how the water flows and drains.
When installed and used correctly, a bathroom fan helps remove excess moisture and prevent damage to surfaces. Your inspector will check the fan for proper operation and installation. Bathroom fans should be vented outdoors and not simply up into the attic where the warm, moist air can cause additional problems.
Keep Your Automatic Garage Door Operating Safely
Automatic garage doors are the largest moving objects in homes. Often operated by electric openers, garage doors can be a serious safety hazard for children. Proper installation and operation, as well as regular maintenance and testing, are imperative to keeping your garage door operating correctly.
Today, all garage door opener systems are equipped with an external entrapment protection system, which is an electric eye or sensor that automatically reverses the door’s downward movement when an obstruction is sensed. Although this safety feature has greatly reduced the number of injuries and deaths caused by garage doors, it hasn’t eliminated them.
Most can be traced back to malfunction of springs, issues with reverse mechanisms and sensor installation problems. Sensors should be mounted no more than 4 to 6 inches above the floor, which should prevent entrapment if someone has fallen under the door.
You should check the operation and function of your garage door monthly. The door should not stick or bind when opened or closed. Make sure to visually check springs, rollers, pulleys, cables and tracks, and add lubrication as necessary. The force and limit settings should meet manufacturer’s instructions. In the event that they don’t, the door should be disconnected from the automatic opener until the problem is resolved. For more information about how to test and check your garage door opener each month, visit the International Door Association (IDA) website.
The IAD recommends that parents teach their children that a garage door opener is not a toy. Don’t let your child stand or walk under a moving door, and don’t let them play “beat the door” by running under a closing garage door. Instead, teach children to stay well away from the automatic door as it opens and shuts, and keep garage remotes locked in the car.
Snapshots From The Field
What’s Wrong With This Photo?
Photo A shows the inside of a garage. The home owner is a car enthusiast and has installed a car lift inside his standard-sized garage so he can work on his vehicles. In order to raise a vehicle on the lift, the home owner cut out the roof framing — see Photo B. Is there anything wrong with how the home owner has done this?
- The home owner did this correctly; if you remove the rafters and braces, the roof will still serve its intended purpose.
- Special framing should have been installed in order to accommodate the amount of clearance needed to support the roof framing system.
- As long as the car lift is in the up position, it will support the roof.
- There’s a minor problem, but a handyman can fix it.
Correct answer: 2. By removing the rafters and braces, the home owner took out the roof support for the garage. It will only be a matter of time before the roof collapses from the weight of snow loads.
The Tiny Living Trend
For the past couple of years, tiny living has seen a big boom. There are tiny houses, micro-unit apartments and even micro condos. But could you really downsize enough to live in a 300-square-foot space?
Plenty of people are doing it. Some are embracing tiny living to pay off debt faster and easier, while others want to spend less money on living expenses and more money, well, living. Still others are living the tiny life to save for retirement or reduce their ecological footprint.
Over the past year, the real estate market has expanded to meet the demands of first-time home buyers and renters for more affordable housing. Micro-unit apartments and condos are showing up across the United States. These units are typically 400 square feet or smaller.
If you’re ready to take on tiny living, you can purchase a tiny house or an RV for around $30,000. However, if you’re more into posh living, you may be interested in a micro apartment or a micro condo. Typically 250 to 400 square feet, these units feature murphy beds and modular furniture, and they’re becoming popular in urban areas. The cost to buy a micro condo varies; a new micro-condo development planned for downtown Houston, Texas, offers units starting at $120,000. Carmel Place, New York City’s first micro-apartment building, offers units for as low as $950 a month, although current available units average $2,700 per month.
Be Safe in Your Summer Home Projects
Summer is a popular time for home remodeling and repair projects. Although you may achieve beautiful results, the process of home repair or an unexpected emergency fix can be stressful. The following tips will help you prepare for future projects:
- Keep a notebook of repairs. List the date the work was completed, the cost and company you used. This can be an asset when it comes to building buyers’ confidence if you decide to move, and it’s a quick resource when you need the next repair.
- Mark electrical, water and gas shutoffs. If you plan to do the work yourself, make sure the appropriate utilities are turned off before you begin to work.
- Take precautions before digging. Call the Diggers Hotline at 8-1-1 if you plan to do any digging. Area utility representatives will come out to mark the locations of underground utility lines so you can avoid hitting electrical lines, gas lines, telephone lines and cable service. One call can help prevent injury and costly property damage.
- Keep a house savings fund. A good rule of thumb is to save 1 to 3 percent of the market value of your home each year for future maintenance.
Did You Know?
The Effects of Humidity
Although people generally talk about comfort in terms of temperature, it’s more than that. In regulating indoor temperature, humidity — the amount of water vapor suspended in air at a given temperature — is a key factor. Relative humidity, a term often used by meteorologists, measures the water vapor the air is holding compared to how much it could hold. The measure is expressed as a percentage.
Relative humidity is important because the human body cools itself by sweating. The faster the moisture on the skin evaporates into the surrounding air, the “cooler” and more comfortable temperatures can seem. The higher the humidity in the air, the more saturated it is with water vapor, which reduces the speed at which sweat evaporates off the skin and makes temperatures more uncomfortable.
Of course, air that is too dry isn’t good, either. Generally, a range between 30 and 50 percent relative humidity is preferable. This prevents static-electric buildup and the skin from drying while still allowing for evaporation of water off the skin. When comfort is considered, humidity levels are important when selecting or modifying any heating or cooling system.
From Our Blog
Should You Be Concerned About Radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas that is slowly released during the natural decay or breakdown of uranium in the earth, and it moves freely though any soil, rock and water. Because it is the heaviest gas in nature, radon can easily accumulate in high levels in the basement or poorly ventilated areas of a house or building.
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Monthly Trivia Question
What are three of the most common toxins in homes?
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