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Finally: The Best Way to Clean Windows

Window CleaningEver thought you did a great job washing your windows, only to return to streaky glass once everything is dry? Most of us can attest to just how annoying those streaks are. That’s why we researched the best way to clean windows once and for all. Here’s how to get a clear, sparkling finish each and every time.

Get the Right Equipment

One thing you’ll need to invest in for this project is a small squeegee, preferably with a long, detachable handle. You should be able to find a high-quality squeegee for right around $20 at your local hardware store, with higher-end models costing up to about $40 and more basic models available for as low as $5. We recommend a squeegee with a durable rubber blade for the best results.

Here’s the complete equipment list. All these items are inexpensive and readily available at just about any big box or hardware store:

  • Squeegee, as mentioned above, with extra blades just in case
  • A five-gallon plastic bucket
  • Dishwashing liquid, like Dawn or similar
  • Scrubber or sponge
  • Lint-free rags or towels

Get Prepped

Fill your five-gallon plastic bucket with two gallons of cool water and a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. That’s all there is to it!

Get Started with the Best Way to Clean Windows

Step 1

Dip your scrubber or sponge in the bucket of solution and be sure to wring out the excess water. Scrub the glass all the way to the edge and be sure not to skip an inch. You’ll want to use different angles and really get in there. This helps get rid of the patterns of dust and dirt that rain and wind can cause. Once you feel as though you’re done scrubbing, it’s time to grab that squeegee.

Step 2

Start by cleaning a narrow strip of glass vertically on one side (think a one- or two-inch strip closest to the frame on one side). To do this, tilt the squeegee so that only a corner comes in contact with the glass, then drag downward. Repeat on the other side. This will help ensure you get the soap solution off every bit of the glass.

Step 3

Next, drag the squeegee across the top of the glass horizontally. You’ll need to make sure you keep the top of the squeegee in contact with the top edge of the window.

Step 4

This next part is super important: be sure to wipe the rubber blade of the squeegee on a lint-free cloth or towel after every pass across the window. While it might just be the most tedious part of washing windows, if you don’t wipe the blade, you risk moving the dirt and debris around and creating those infamous streaks we mentioned earlier.

Step 5

Continue to work down the window horizontally, overlapping the previous stroke. As you work your way down, you’ll probably notice excess water accumulating near the bottom of the glass. Taking time to remove these drips is another key step in preventing streaks. Take a clean lint-free cloth or towel and run it along any areas that appear to have water droplets.

And repeat, repeat, repeat till all your windows are shining! If you have to break out the ladder to reach upper stories, we recommend using a ladder stabilizer, and better yet, requesting the help of a friend or family member.

You can use this method to clean the inside of your windows, too. You’ll just need to take a few extra precautions to avoid getting water and cleaning solution everywhere. Try laying down a tarp under any window you happen to be working under.

National Property Inspections Helps You Invest with Success

NPI is your authority on all things home maintenance. Our inspectors have the knowledge and expertise to assess the major components of a home, helping you make the best choice when it comes to buying and selling real estate. Call us today to schedule your appointment.

June 2018: Summertime

Ask The Inspector

Opening Your Pool for Summer: A Definitive Checklist

Opening your pool for the summer can certainly seem like a daunting task, but we promise it’s not so bad! We’re here to give you a quick refresher course and break the process into manageable chunks. Learn More

10 Barbeque Tips That’ll Save Your Eyebrows

Grilling out is the quintessential summer pastime, up there with baseball and slip n’ slide. But because it involves fire, it can also be dangerous. Avoid mishaps by following a few simple barbeque safety tips. Learn More

Expert Advice

6 Remodel Ideas for an Easy-to-Clean Bathroom

Nobody likes a germy bathroom, and luckily you don’t have to put up with one if you remodel with the right materials. Here are six remodeling ideas that will help you keep a clean and sparkly bathroom. Learn More

7 New Homeowner Tips You Need Right Now

Owning your first home can be an exciting time, but there’s a lot we wish we’d known coming in. Here are seven new homeowner tips that will get you started on the right foot. Learn More

Snapshots From The Field

No matter how many homes our inspectors assess over the years, they’re always finding new and interesting finds in the field. The following equipment was found in the attic of a house built in 1955.

So what is it, exactly?

This is a relay box, likely used for an early radiant heating system. Radiant ceiling heat first became popular in the mid-1950s and continued to be favored well into the 1970s. Relay boxes were placed in walls, floors and ceilings to “see” or “sense” objects, including people and furniture, and then slowly transfer heat to them. The air in the room would then slowly get warmer due to the objects giving off heat. The sensation a radiant heating system provided is comparable to being gently warmed by the sun.

The concept of radiant heat slowly fell out of favor over time due to the rising cost of electricity. The systems could also be difficult to access since they were always located among insulation behind walls, ceilings and floors.

Modern radiant heating systems are still available today. Just keep in mind that the installation process is quite involved and that it’s better to build a new construction with radiant heat than it is to replace an existing system with it.

Maintenance Matters

Your Simple Spring Lawn Care Guide

Everyone wants a lush, green lawn when springtime comes around, and fortunately, it’s easy to accomplish. Read on to discover the lawn care guide you need to follow to have the best grass in the neighborhood. Learn More

8 Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home This Spring

For many, spring and early summer means allergy season and dealing with irritating symptoms for weeks on end. Luckily, you can create a more allergy-proof home during pollen season and beyond by making a few minor adjustments. Learn More

Finally: The Best Way to Clean Windows

Ever thought you did a great job washing your windows, only to return to streaky glass once everything is dry? Say goodbye to stripes and get a perfectly clean finish every time with this easy method. Learn More

Solid vs. Hollow: A Quick Primer on Door Types

There’s more to buying new doors than choosing the best color and style. You’ll also want to know about the different door types and which one is best-suited for your home’s needs. Learn More

Monthly Trivia Question

Q: How far away from your home should you keep your gas grill when in use?

Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbucks gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.

 

November 2017: Plumbing Inspections

Ask The Inspector

Plumbing

Q: Obviously my inspector will check the plumbing fixtures — sinks, toilets, showers, etc. — but what about the supply and drain pipes?

Ask The Inspector

A. In addition to checking all the plumbing fixtures of a property for functionality, water pressure, drainage and flow, your inspector should visually inspect and describe the water supply pipes and drainage pipes.

Water supply pipe materials were made of lead and then converted to galvanized pipe from the early 1900s to early 1960s, so those may be present in older homes. Copper supply pipes were introduced in the late 1950s and may also still be used. Some modern-day plumbing supply systems have incorporated plastic-type piping — such as polybutylene, PEX and CPVC — made by various companies. During the inspection, your inspector should determine and describe the type of plumbing supply systems.

In some cases, drain pipes were made with clay for underground use from the house to the main line at the street. Inside the house – in the early days of the late 1800s to early 1960s — lead and cast iron were primarily used and then replaced by the more modern ABS, PVC and CPVC plastic drain pipe material.

In any case, your inspector is looking for signs of leakage and corrosion with either your water supply or drain pipe systems. A home inspection does not guarantee insurability of a home that contains certain building products and materials; some insurance companies may not cover certain water pipe supply systems.

For example, there was a class-action lawsuit that is no longer in effect for polybutylene piping systems. Polybutylene piping is typically a gray, sometimes black, flexible plastic piping system that was prone to leaking, especially in the first generation. These systems were reported as failing in the tubing, fittings and connections. The settlement of the class-action suit only repaired the leaks — it did not entitle full replacement unless warranted. The second generation of this piping was prone to leaking at the fittings. Thus, when discovered, polybutylene piping systems should be fully inspected by a qualified plumbing contractor.

Galvanized piping systems are now considered obsolete and are no longer used. Typically, galvanized piping systems have a tendency — depending on hard water content — to collect calcium deposits at elbow and T fittings, which reduces water flow, especially on the hot water side. Eventually the lines close up, and in some cases, they can develop leaks.

Plumbing system repairs and replacements can be one of the most expensive repairs to a home, so it is important to have plumbing systems inspected by a quality, trained home inspector.

Be Advised

Dealing With Air Impurity

Air impurity is caused by two general pollutants: particulates and gases. Smoke, dust mites, 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.

Be Advised

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.

Snapshots From The Field

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Snapshots From The Field

  1. You should not install polybutylene piping or any type of plastic piping system this close to a gas water heater vent pipe.
  2. This is a proper installation.
  3. Plastic piping like polybutylene is the best type of piping system to use for this application.
  4. PEX pipe would be a better choice for this application.

Correct Answer A. You should not install polybutylene piping or any type of plastic piping system this close to a gas water heater vent pipe. There should be a metal type of extension pipe installed for any of the supply lines in or out of a gas water heater. NPI’s inspection expert says that the installation in the photo is a disaster waiting to happen. Also note that the pipe may be leaking due to corrosion.

Noteworthy News

Exterior Flashings

Whether for a window, door or skylight, cutting a hole in your home will create a place where water can enter. This can cause 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. This prevents water problems from occurring.

Noteworthy News

Flashings may be visible, concealed or partially concealed, and are integral in ensuring that water stays outside on the lawn instead of inside on the floor. If traced to their source, many so-called roof leaks are actually flashing failures. Flashings divert water away from: chimneys, windows, doors, valleys, the intersection of various rooflines, skylights, 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 wall and roof openings where flashings are common to determine if there is any evidence of failure or leakage. Findings are recorded in a written report. For more information on flashings, roofs and property inspection, call us today.

Maintenance Matters

Shopping Tips for New Windows

One of the best ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency is to install new windows. But once you start shopping, the variety of available technologies to choose from may seem overwhelming. For instance, glazing materials now come with a variety of coatings and feature options. You can also buy frames in aluminum, wood, vinyl, fiberglass or a combination of materials. And, each glazing or frame option has its own pros and cons.

MAINTENANCE MATTERS

To help you determine which window option to choose, we’ve collected the following tips:

  • Look for the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) label to ensure that the window’s performance is certified.
  • The lower the U-value, the better the window’s insulation. In colder climates, a U-value of .35 or lower is recommended because these windows have double glazing and a low-e coating.
  • In warmer climates, where summertime heat coming through windows is the main concern, look for windows with double glazing and spectrally selective coatings to reduce heat gain.
  • Select windows with air leakage ratings of 0.3 cubic feet per minute or less.
  • To maximize the seasonal energy benefits in temperate climates, choose windows with both low U-values and low solar heat gain coefficiency (SHGC).
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® AND EnergyGuide labels on the windows.
  • Vinyl windows are a low-cost durable option — virtually indestructible, impervious to moisture and insect and rot-proof.
  • Fiberglass windows won’t warp, rot or crack, but they also cost about twice as much as vinyl windows.
  • Although aluminum windows are extremely strong, aluminum has many downsides: It doesn’t insulate well against heat and cold; it expands and contracts rapidly relative to glass, putting stress on seals; and it is susceptible to the corrosive effects of salt air, so it’s not a great choice for coastal climates.
  • Wood windows have a certain charm, but they aren’t as durable, are susceptible to rot and insect attack, require vigilant maintenance and cost more.

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.

Monthly Trivia Question

Carpenter Ants destroy wood by feeding on it. True or False?

Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbuck’s gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.

April 2017: Doors and Windows

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Doors and Windows

Windows and doors in a commercial or residential property can be important for aesthetics, safety and energy efficiency. The location, type, size and number of windows affects air movement and access to light in the home. Besides impacts on overall safety, the location, style and number of doors determines the flow of traffic through the house.

Ask The Inspector

Understanding the type, function and condition of the windows and doors before you move in can help determine what maintenance might be necessary in the future. A National Property Inspections professional will assess the safety of doors and how well they seal. A representative number of the windows on both the exterior and the interior of the home will also be checked. On the exterior, the inspector checks the overall condition of the windows and doors, including the presence or absence of a sealant-like weather stripping or caulking.

Inside, the inspector will check window and door operation and insulation. The inspector will also look for the presence of screens or storm windows and breaks or cracks in the window panes. If conditions allow, the inspector will assess thermal pane windows for evidence of problems with the seal.

For more information on window and door inspections, contact National Property Inspections.

Be Advised

Is the Roof on Your New Home Installed Properly?

Buyers and Realtors often don’t see the need to have a newly constructed home inspected, or they prefer to wait to get a builder’s warranty inspection. A builder’s warranty inspection is a full home inspection to find any builder defects in a house prior to the expiration of the builder’s one-year warranty.

Be Advised

Some of the problems we find with newly built homes are issues with the roof. Many reputable builders assume that they’ve hired quality professionals to perform the installation of a roof. There are cases where the employees of these contractors are inexperienced or cut corners to get a job done on time.

It’s good practice to hire a qualified home inspection expert to check all facets of a newly built home, and that includes the roof. When you go to make a major financial decision, like buying a new house, make sure to get all of the facts on the quality of your new home.

Snapshots From The Field

Can You Guess what is wrong with this picture?
Snapshots From The Field

  1. There is no access to the electrical panel
  2. The cabinets are installed wrong
  3. There are too many cabinets

Correct Answer 1.The cabinet installation blocks access to the electrical panel, which must be kept clear to avoid fire hazards.

Noteworthy News

Prevent Hot Water Burns

Protecting young children and others in your home from burns caused by hot water can be a concern. Water temperatures over 120° F (48° C) can potentially cause scalds. That’s why a water temperature assessment is part of a general home inspection.

Noteworthy News

This assessment has two parts: First, the inspector uses a thermometer, usually held under the water in the shower while operating at least one other water fixture to determine any significant changes in water temperature.

The temperature in the shower is adjusted to about 105° F (40° C). Next, the inspector will flush the toilet and turn on the sink. If the water temperature in the shower shifts more than five degrees, the inspector will note it in the inspection report. This same test is also used to help assess and report on water volume and flow in the home. The inspector will note visible changes in the water volume or flow when all three fixtures are operating.

To test the general temperature of a home’s hot water, your inspector will turn on the hot water in the kitchen and test it with the thermometer. Inspectors frequently find that a home’s water is too hot, but the temperature setting usually can be changed on the water heater to protect people in your home.

Maintenance Matters

Window Cleaning Tips

April is a good month to uncover the windows and let in the sunshine. Dirty windows can seriously dull the moment, so consider a good washing first.

MAINTENANCE MATTERS

Take off the screens. Lay them on a flat surface. Wet the screens thoroughly. Scrub lightly, being careful not to bend the material in the screen. Repair holes. Open any weep holes blocked by sealant, dirt or paint. Open weep holes help pull moist air out of the home and prevent mold and mildew. Reapply weather stripping or sealant. Vacuum any debris from inside the sill and replace the screens. You can use a fine steel wool to clean the tracks to prevent sticking.

If you can, clean and repair windows on cool, cloudy days. Warm, sunny days tend to cause windows to dry too fast, leaving behind streaks and spots. Reassemble windows and enjoy some terrific natural light indoors.

If you are using a ladder to reach the outside of windows, it might be a good time to check the gutters and downspouts for build-up, debris or damage. Clean out any leaves, twigs or other items that may be clogging gutters. Check the manufacturer instructions and follow and safety precautions every time you use a ladder.

Did You Know?

Bringing Electricity Home

Do you know where your home’s electricity comes from? The electrical connections powering today’s homes start at a transformer on a pole or somewhere on the ground near the house. Transformers on the ground signify buried electrical lines. Transformers on a utility pole mean the electrical lines come into the house via overhead wires.

If your electrical lines are buried, they won’t be visible outside your home. However, if you have overhead electrical wires, you should regularly take a look at them for safety reasons. Damage to the wire or insulation around the wire can cause electrocution, so look for those things. You can likely check the overhead wires from the ground, and you should never touch the electrical lines.

Height regulations for electrical lines vary from one city to another. For general purposes, all electrical lines should be out of reach of people, vehicles, ladders and other equipment. This includes areas above pools, decks, porches and balconies. Electrical wires should also be clear of trees or other obstructions, including the corner of the house or the edge of a gutter, which could cause abrasion and expose bare wires. Finally, electrical lines should not touch other utility lines entering the home, such as the telephone or cable line.

Monthly Trivia Question

Before Spring, Spring time and Springing time, what was the season known as based on an old English word?

  1. Lent
  2. Advent
  3. Epiphany
  4. Pentecost

Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbuck’s gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.