Ask The Inspector
What You Can Expect From A Plumbing Inspection
A typical home plumbing system includes three fundamental components: the water supply system, the fixtures and appliances, and the drain system. The plumbing system’s water supply includes piping for fresh water coming in and wastewater going out. The proper flow of water through both systems is an essential part of maintaining a well-functioning home. Assessing the system for its overall condition and visible leaks is part of any home inspection.
Only visible and accessible water supply (and drain) components within a structure are typically subject to inspection because underground or hidden portions of the system that are not readily accessible are specifically excluded. The pipes related to the water and wastewater plumbing must be separate to prevent wastewater from entering the drinking system. Supply pipes are generally made of copper, plastic, brass, galvanized iron or steel, or a combination of materials.
A National Properties Inspections professional will determine the type of pipe and look over the visible piping for evidence of leaks or malfunction, such as staining, mildew or odors. Even a small leak or condensation on pipes can cause damage to wood, wall or floor coverings. The inspection report will include signs of leaks or evidence of past leaks if found.
Some Inspectors will offer a sewer scan as an add-on service. A sewer scan is not part of a standard home inspection but if there are trees surrounding the property or evidence that there could be problems lurking below the ground the inspector might suggest scanning the sewer line for breaks or other issues. Tree roots specifically like to encroach on pipes and other water supplies.
Fire Safety in the Home
Every homeowner should set up an emergency plan for their household. This plan should include a list of emergency shutoffs and other important items in the house to familiarize your household with in the case of an unexpected situation.
You may need to find an expert to help locate, repair or maintain some of these shutoff valves and switches. It will help to locate these items in an emergency if you take the time now to tag them. Take a tour with family members explaining what these items do and how to operate the controls. Here is a list of some items to tag:
- Main electrical disconnect
- Water main valve
- Water heater shutoff
- Natural gas main
- Local gas valves
- Air conditioning disconnect
- Furnace and air conditioning main switch
- Emergency release for garage door
- Fire extinguishers
- Emergency toolbox
The above is a basic list. For more detailed information, contact your local utilities, police and fire departments.
Snapshots From The Field
What’s Wrong With This Photo?
Photo submitted by Tom Trotter-NPI, Troy, OH
- You can put a cap on the end to catch the water when the TPR valve starts to leak.
- A TPR extension pipe must run in a gravity downward flow with no threaded ends to screw a cap on as in this case.
- You can use PEX pipe for this.
- You can run a TPR extension pipe uphill.
Correct Answer is B. A TPR extension pipe must run in a gravity downward flow with no threaded ends to screw a cap on as in this case.
Home Air Purifier
Air impurity is caused by two general pollutants: particulates and gases. Smoke, dust mites, insect parts and pollen fall into the particulate category. Gaseous pollutants include gases released as a result of combustion, such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.
There are several ways to clean your home’s air of its potential pollutants:
- Air filter solutions trap particles as air passes through the filters.
- Activated carbon air filters are used to eliminate gases and odors from the air.
- Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) systems use UV light to kill gaseous pollutants.
- Air ionizers remove particles from the air by releasing negative ions, which change the polarity of airborne particulates.
It’s not possible to control the air quality outdoors; controlling it indoors is another matter. An air purifier is available for nearly every indoor pollutant, and is a common sense decision for homeowners to help ensure a healthy air environment.
Cut a hole in a home, whether for a window, door or skylight and you create a place where water can enter the home, causing rot, mold or other problems. Flashings, made of aluminum, galvanized steel, copper and plastics such as PVC, are meant to cover and protect the seams, preventing water problems.
Flashings may be visible, concealed or partially concealed, but they are integral in ensuring water stays outside on the lawn instead of coming inside on the floor. If traced to their source, many so-called roof leaks are actually flashing failures. When operating as intended, flashings divert water away from: chimneys, windows, doors, valleys, the intersection of various rooflines, skylights and pipes and stacks.
As part of a general home inspection, NPI professionals inspect the flashings to ensure they are functioning and properly installed. The inspector will observe both the inside and outside of areas wall and roof openings where flashings are common to determine if any evidence of failure or leakage exists. Findings are recorded in a written report. For more information on flashings, roofs and property inspection, talk with us today.
Did You Know?
The Life Expectancy of Home Components
Do you ever wonder how long a certain component in your home might last? The life expectancy of a typical component depends on the use it receives. The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) “Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components” created a timeline for you, based on the results of the study, to use before planning your next big home improvement.
Appliances differ in their life expectancies. Gas ranges have the highest life expectancy of 15 years, washers and dryers are expected to last about 13 years, and dishwashers and microwaves are expected to last nine years.
Flooring All natural wood floorings have a life expectancy of 100 years or more; marble, slate and granite are expected to last for about 100 years; vinyl floors last up to 50 years; carpet last between eight and 10 years.
Kitchen cabinets are expected to last up to 50 years.
Masonry (chimneys, brick veneers, fireplaces) are expected to last up to 100 years.
Countertops have a life expectancy of about 20 years, depending on the type.
Exterior doors (fiberglass, steel, wood) can last as long as the house exists, while vinyl and screen doors have a life expectancy of 20 to 40 years.
Garage door openers have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years.
The life expectancy of most components is often overlooked. Most components are replaced before they are worn out because of changes in technology, life styles and consumer preferences. Proper maintenance of these components is important in order to achieve the maximum life expectancy.
For Your Information
Moisture Issues Inside The Home
When we turn on our home heating systems each fall, many of us experience condensation, or steam, on windows. Condensation requires a cool surface and moisture in the air. When the temperature of the glass drops below the dew point of the inside air, invisible water vapor in the air condenses on the cool glass.
Over the summer, moisture slowly accumulates in furniture, walls, woodwork, cloth and other surfaces. In the fall, as the exterior temperature drops for the first time, some of this moisture condenses on cold window glass
Most moisture leaks out of your home as your furnace runs and vent fans are used. Eventually, all the materials in your home dry out and moisture stops condensing on the windows. This normally takes a few weeks. Keeping drapery and window treatments away from the glass area allows a good flow of air over the windows and helps reduce condensation quicker.
If condensation continues to form on windows after several weeks, your home may have excessive moisture. Most moisture problems can be solved by limiting sources of moisture and improving ventilation.
Monthly Trivia Question
True or false: Brass doorknobs disinfect themselves?
Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbuck’s gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.