Central Air Conditioning System Inspection


AC condensing unit

Central Air Conditioning System Inspection
by Nick Gromicko and Rob London (InterNACHI.ORG)

A building’s central air conditioning system must be periodically inspected and maintained in order to function properly. While an annual inspection performed by a trained professional is recommended, homeowners can do a lot of the work themselves by following the tips offered in this guide.

Clean the Exterior Condenser Unit and Components

The exterior condenser unit is the large box located on the side of the building that is designed to push heat from the inside of the building to the outdoors. Inside of the box are coils of pipe that are surrounded by thousands of thin metal “fins” that allow the coils more surface area to exchange heat. Follow these tips when cleaning the exterior condenser unit and its inner components — after turning off power to the unit!Remove any leaves, spider webs and other debris from the unit’s exterior. Trim foliage back several feet from the unit to ensure proper air flow.
Remove the cover grille to clean any debris from the unit’s interior. A garden hose can be helpful for this task.
Straighten any bent fins with a tool called a fin comb.
Add lubricating oil to the motor. Check your owner’s manual for specific instructions.
Clean the evaporator coil and condenser coil at least once a year. When they collect dirt, they may not function properly.
Inspect the Condensate Drain Line

Condensate drain lines collect condensed water and drain it away from the unit. They are located on the side of the inside fan unit. Sometimes there are two drain lines—a primary drain line that’s built into the unit, and a secondary drain line that can drain if the first line becomes blocked. Homeowners can inspect the drain line by using the following tips, which take very little time and require no specialized tools:
Inspect the drain line for obstructions, such as algae and debris. If the line becomes blocked, water will back up into the drain pan and overflow, potentially causing a safety hazard or water damage to your home.
Make sure the hoses are secured and fit properly.

Clean the Air Filter

Air filters remove pollen, dust and other particles that would otherwise circulate indoors. Most filters are typically rectangular in shape and about 20 inches by 16 inches, and about 1 inch thick. They slide into the main ductwork near the inside fan unit. The filter should be periodically washed or replaced, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. A dirty air filter will not only degrade indoor air quality, but it will also strain the motor to work harder to move air through it, increasing energy costs and reducing energy efficiency. The filter should be replaced monthly during heavy use during the cooling seasons. You may need to change the filter more often if the air conditioner is in constant use, if building occupants have respiratory problems,if you have pets with fur, or if dusty conditions are present.

Cover the Exterior Unit

When the cooling season is over, you should cover the exterior condenser unit in preparation for winter. If it isn’t being used, why expose it to the elements? This measure will prevent ice, leaves and dirt from entering the unit, which can harm components and require additional maintenance in the spring. A cover can be purchased, or you can make one yourself by taping together plastic trash bags. Be sure to turn the unit off before covering it.

Close the Air Distribution Registers

Air distribution registers are duct openings in ceilings, walls and floors where cold air enters the room. They should be closed after the cooling season ends in order to keep warm air from back-flowing out of the room during the warming season. Pests and dust will also be unable to enter the ducts during the winter if the registers are closed. These vents typically can be opened or closed with an adjacent lever or wheel. Remember to open the registers in the spring before the cooling season starts. Also, make sure they are not blocked by drapes, carpeting or furniture.

In addition, homeowners should practice the following strategies in order to keep their central air conditioning systems running properly:
Have the air conditioning system inspected by a professional each year before the start of the cooling season.
Reduce stress on the air conditioning system by enhancing your home’s energy efficiency. Switch from incandescent lights to compact fluorescents, for instance, which produce less heat.

In summary, any homeowner can perform periodic inspections and maintenance to their home’s central air conditioning system.

If you have any questions or would like to get a recommendation on a qualified, trusted HVAC contractor you can send me an e-mail @ allpointshomeinspect@yahoo.com or call me @ 720-670-0366.
Thank you,
David Hays

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NEW EPA LEAD LAW


Here is a brief rundown on the new lead paint law.

This law went into effect April 22, 2010

What property is affected?
Any residential dwelling, or day care facility built prior to 1978

What is the fine?
$37,500 per day, per incident.

Who must comply?
Anyone disturbing more than 6 sqft of interior paint, or 20 sqft of exterior paint, or any window replacement.
Fix and flippers doing the work themselves, even if the home is vacant.
Property managers having work done on any rental unit, even if it is vacant.
Owners who manage their own rental property.

Who must do the work?
Certified Renovator must test prior to work, supervise work, and certify clean up.

What must happen during the work?
”Renovate Right” booklet must be given to any occupant and signed disclosure at the back filled out.
http://epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovaterightbrochure.pdf
Warning must be posted during work, and public / occupants are not allowed to enter work area.
Renovation area must be sealed off from other parts of the home.
Lead-save practices must be followed during work.
Forced air heating and A/C must be turned off in work area (vents sealed to prevent spread of dust).
Clean up must be done with HEPA vacuum and all clean up must be certified.

Who is excluded?
Owner “Occupants”, that certify that no children under 6, or pregnant women live in the home.
Key word is occupants, thus why fix and flippers are not excluded since a child or pregnant woman may purchase.
Emergency repairs on areas that would be a safety hazard, or create more damage if not immediately repaired.

What impact does this have on Brokers?
First, inform your investors, clients and contractors on this new law.
Lead Paint Disclosures on renovated homes will need to include “knowledge” and “reports” if they exist.
”Don’t Know” and “Have No Reports” will be a red flag if it is obvious walls were moved or exterior was scraped.

For more information, please visit: http://epa.gov/lead/ OR http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm

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WARMER WEATHER = SWIMMING POOLS


Safety Guidelines for Home Pools
Swimming pools should always be happy places. Unfortunately, each year thousands of American families confront swimming pool tragedies, drownings and near-drownings of young children. At InterNACHI, we want to prevent these tragedies. These are guidelines for pool barriers that can help prevent most submersion incidents involving young children. These guidelines are not intended as the sole method to minimize pool drowning of young children, but include helpful safety tips for safer pools.

Each year, hundreds of young children die and thousands come close to death due to submersion in residential swimming pools. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has estimated that each year, about 300 children under the age of 5 drown in swimming pools. Hospital emergency-room treatment is required for more than 2,000 children under 5 who were submerged in residential pools. The CPSC did an extensive study of swimming pool accidents, both fatal drownings and near-fatal submersions, in California, Arizona and Florida — states in which home swimming pools are very popular and used during much of the year.

In California, Arizona and Florida, drowning was the leading cause of accidental death in and around the home for children under the age of 5.
Seventy-five percent of the children involved in swimming pool submersion or drowning accidents were between 1 and 3 years old.
Boys between 1 and 3 were the most likely victims of fatal drownings and near-fatal submersions in residential swimming pools.
Most of the victims were in the presence of one or both parents when the swimming pool accident occurred.
Nearly half of the child victims were last seen in the house before the pool accident occurred. In addition, 23% of the accident victims were last seen on the porch or patio, or in the yard.
This means that 69% of the children who became victims in swimming pool accidents were not expected to be in or at the pool, but were found drowned or submerged in the water.
Sixty-five percent of the accidents occurred in a pool owned by the victim’s immediate family, and 33% of the accidents occurred in pools owned by relatives or friends.
Fewer than 2% of the pool accidents were the result of children trespassing on property where they didn’t live or belong.
Seventy-seven percent of the swimming pool accident victims had been missing for five minutes or less when they were found in the pool, drowned or submerged.

The speed with which swimming pool drownings and submersions can occur is a special concern: by the time a child’s absence is noted, the child may have drowned. Anyone who has cared for a toddler knows how fast young children can move. Toddlers are inquisitive and impulsive, and lack a realistic sense of danger. These behaviors, coupled with a child’s ability to move quickly and unpredictably, make swimming pools particularly hazardous for households with young children.

Swimming pool drownings of young children have another particularly insidious feature: these are silent deaths. It is unlikely that splashing or screaming will occur to alert a parent or caregiver that a child is in trouble. The best way to reduce child drownings in residential pools is for pool owners to construct and maintain barriers that prevent young children from gaining access to pools. However, there are no substitutes for diligent supervision.

Why the Swimming Pool Guidelines Were Developed

Young child can get over a pool barrier if the barrier is too low, or if the barrier has handholds or footholds for a child to use for climbing. The guidelines recommend that the top of a pool barrier be at least 48 inches above grade, measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. Eliminating handholds and footholds, and minimizing the size of openings in a barrier’s construction, can prevent inquisitive children from climbing pool barriers.

For a solid barrier, no indentations or protrusions should be present, other than normal construction tolerances and masonry joints. For a barrier (fence) made up of horizontal and vertical members, if the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45 inches, the horizontal members should be on the swimming pool-side of the fence. The spacing of the vertical members should not exceed 1-3/4 inches. This size is based on the foot-width of a young child, and is intended to reduce the potential for a child to gain a foothold. If there are any decorative cutouts in the fence, the space within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4 inches.

The definition of pool includes spas and hot tubs. The swimming pool-barrier guidelines, therefore, apply to these structures, as well as to conventional swimming pools.

How to Prevent a Child from Getting OVER a Pool Barrier

A successful pool barrier prevents a child from getting OVER, UNDER or THROUGH, and keeps the child from gaining access to the pool except when supervising adults are present.

The Swimming Pool-Barrier Guidelines

If the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is more than 45 inches, the horizontal members can be on the side of the fence facing away from the pool. The spacing between vertical members should not exceed 4 inches. This size is based on the head-breadth and chest depth of a young child, and is intended to prevent a child from passing through an opening. Again, if there are any decorative cutouts in the fence, the space within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4 inches.

For a chain-link fence, the mesh size should not exceed 1-1/4 inches square, unless slats fastened at the top or bottom of the fence are used to reduce mesh openings to no more than 1-3/4 inches.

For a fence made up of diagonal members (lattice work), the maximum opening in the lattice should not exceed 1-3/4 inches.

Above-ground pools should have barriers. The pool structure itself can sometimes serves as a barrier, or a barrier can be mounted on top of the pool structure. Then, there are two possible ways to prevent young children from climbing up into an above-ground pool. The steps or ladder can be designed to be secured, locked or removed to prevent access, or the steps or ladder can be surrounded by a barrier, such as those described above. For any pool barrier, the maximum clearance at the bottom of the barrier should not exceed 4 inches above grade, when the measurement is done on the side of the barrier facing away from the pool.

If an above-ground pool has a barrier on the top of the pool, the maximum vertical clearance between the top of the pool and the bottom of the barrier should not exceed 4 inches. Preventing a child from getting through a pool barrier can be done by restricting the sizes of openings in a barrier, and by using self-closing and self-latching gates.

To prevent a young child from getting through a fence or other barrier, all openings should be small enough so that a 4-inch diameter sphere cannot pass through. This size is based on the head- breadth and chest-depth of a young child.

Gates
There are two kinds of gates which might be found on a residential property. Both can play a part in the design of a swimming pool barrier.

Pedestrian gates are the gates people walk through. Swimming pool barriers should be equipped with a gate or gates which restrict access to the pool. A locking device should be included in the gate’s design. Gates should open out from the pool and should be self-closing and self-latching. If a gate is properly designed, even if the gate is not completely latched, a young child pushing on the gate in order to enter the pool area will at least close the gate and may actually engage the latch. When the release mechanism of the self-latching device is less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate, the release mechanism for the gate should be at least 3 inches below the top of the gate on the side facing the pool. Placing the release mechanism at this height prevents a young child from reaching over the top of a gate and releasing the latch. Also, the gate and barrier should have no opening greater than 1/2-inch within 18 inches of the latch release mechanism. This prevents a young child from reaching through the gate and releasing the latch.

Other gates should be equipped with self-latching devices. The self-latching devices should be installed as described for pedestrian gates.

How to Prevent a Child from Getting UNDER or THROUGH a Pool Barrier
In many homes, doors open directly onto the pool area or onto a patio which leads to the pool. In such cases, the wall of the house is an important part of the pool barrier, and passage through any doors in the house wall should be controlled by security measures. The importance of controlling a young child’s movement from the house to the pool is demonstrated by the statistics obtained during the CPSC’s study of pool incidents in California, Arizona and Florida. Almost half (46%) of the children who became victims of pool accidents were last seen in the house just before they were found in the pool.

All doors which give access to a swimming pool should be equipped with an audible alarm which sounds when the door and/or screen are opened. The alarm should sound for 30 seconds or more within seven seconds after the door is opened. It should also be loud, at least 85 decibels, when measured 10 feet away from the alarm mechanism. The alarm sound should be distinct from other sounds in the house, such as the telephone, doorbell and smoke alarm. The alarm should have an automatic re-set feature. Because adults will want to pass through house doors in the pool barrier without setting off the alarm, the alarm should have a switch that allows adults to temporarily de-activate the alarm for up to 15 seconds. The de-activation switch could be a touch pad (keypad) or a manual switch, and should be located at least 54 inches above the threshold of the door covered by the alarm. This height was selected based on the reaching ability of young children.
Power safety covers can be installed on pools to serve as security barriers. Power safety covers should conform to the specifications in ASTM F 1346-91. This standard specifies safety performance requirements for pool covers to protect young children from drowning. Self-closing doors with self-latching devices could also be used to safeguard doors which give ready access to a swimming pool.

Indoor Pools

When a pool is located completely within a house, the walls that surround the pool should be equipped to serve as pool safety barriers. Measures recommended above where a house wall serves as part of a safety barrier also apply for all the walls surrounding an indoor pool.

Guidelines

An outdoor swimming pool, including an in-ground, above-ground, or on-ground pool, hot tub, or spa, should be provided with a barrier which complies with the following:

1. The top of the barrier should be at least 48 inches above grade, measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. The maximum vertical clearance between grade and the bottom of the barrier should be 4 inches measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. Where the top of the pool structure is above grade, such as an above-ground pool, the barrier may be at ground level, such as the pool structure, or mounted on top of the pool structure. Where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, the maximum vertical clearance between the top of the pool structure and the bottom of the barrier should be 4 inches.

2. Openings in the barrier should not allow passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere.

3. Solid barriers, which do not have openings, such as a masonry and stone wall, should not contain indentations or protrusions, except for normal construction tolerances and tooled masonry joints.

4. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members, and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45 inches, the horizontal members should be located on the swimming pool-side of the fence. Spacing between vertical members should not exceed 1-3/4 inches in width. Where there are decorative cutouts, spacing within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4 inches in width.

5. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members, and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is 45 inches or more, spacing between vertical members should not exceed 4 inches. Where there are decorative cutouts, spacing within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4 inches in width.

6. The maximum mesh size for chain-link fences should not exceed 1-3/4 inch square, unless the fence is provided with slats fastened at the top or the bottom which reduce the openings to no more than 1-3/4 inches.

7. Where the barrier is composed of diagonal members, such as a lattice fence, the maximum opening formed by the diagonal members should be no more than 1-3/4 inches.

8. Access gates to the pool should be equipped to accommodate a locking device. Pedestrian access gates should open outward, away from the pool, and should be self-closing and have a self-latching device. Gates other than pedestrian access gates should have a self-latching device, where the release mechanism of the self-latching device is located less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate.
The release mechanism should be located on the pool-side of the gate at least 3 inches below the top of the gate.
The gate and barrier should have no opening greater than 1/2-inch within 18 inches of the release mechanism.
9. Where a wall of a dwelling serves as part of the barrier, one of the following should apply:

All doors with direct access to the pool through that wall should be equipped with an alarm which produces an audible warning when the door and its screen, if present, are opened. The alarm should sound continuously for a minimum of 30 seconds within seven seconds after the door is opened. The alarm should have a minimum sound pressure rating of 85 dBA at 10 feet, and the sound of the alarm should be distinctive from other household sounds, such as smoke alarms, telephones and doorbells. The alarm should automatically re-set under all conditions. The alarm should be equipped with manual means, such as touchpads or switches, to temporarily de-activate the alarm for a single opening of the door from either direction. Such de-activation should last for no more than 15 seconds. The de-activation touch pads or switches should be located at least 54 inches above the threshold of the door.
The pool should be equipped with a power safety cover which complies with ASTM F1346-91.
Other means of protection, such as self-closing doors with self-latching devices, are acceptable as long as the degree of protection afforded is not less than the protection afforded by the above.
10. Where an above-ground pool structure is used as a barrier, or where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, and the means of access is a ladder or steps, then:
The ladder to the pool or steps should be capable of being secured, locked or removed to prevent access.
The ladder or steps should be surrounded by a barrier. When the ladder or steps are secured, locked, or removed, any opening created should not allow the passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere.
These guidelines are intended to provide a means of protection against potential drownings of children under 5 years of age by restricting access to residential swimming pools, spas and hot tubs.

Exemptions

A portable spa with a safety cover which complies with ASTM F1346-91 should be exempt from the guidelines presented here. Swimming pools, hot tubs, and non-portable spas with safety covers should not be exempt from these provisions.

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Childproofing Your Home: 12 Safety Devices to Protect Your Children


About 2.5 million children are injured or killed by hazards in the home each year. The good news is that many of these incidents can be prevented by using simple child-safety devices on the market today. Any safety device you buy should be sturdy enough to prevent injury to your child, yet easy for you to use. It’s important to follow installation instructions carefully. In addition, if you have older children in the house, be sure they re-secure safety devices. Remember, too, that no device is completely childproof; determined youngsters have been known to disable them. You can childproof your home for a fraction of what it would cost to have a professional do it. And safety devices are easy to find. You can buy them at hardware stores, baby equipment shops, supermarkets, drug stores, home and linen stores, and through online and mail-order catalogues.

InterNACHI inspectors, too, should know what to tell clients who are concerned about the safety of their children. Here are some child-safety devices that can help prevent many injuries to young children.

1. Use safety latches and locks for cabinets and drawers in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas to help prevent poisonings and other injuries. Safety latches and locks on cabinets and drawers can help prevent children from gaining access to medicines and household cleaners, as well as knives and other sharp objects.

Look for safety latches and locks that adults can easily install and use, but that are sturdy enough to withstand pulls and tugs from children. Safety latches are not a guarantee of protection, but they can make it more difficult for children to reach dangerous substances. Even products with child-resistant packaging should be locked away out of reach; this packaging is not childproof.

Typical cost of a safety latch or lock: less than $2.

2. Use safety gates to help prevent falls down stairs and to keep children away from dangerous areas. Look for safety gates that children cannot dislodge easily, but that adults can open and close without difficulty. For the top of stairs, gates that screw into the wall are more secure than “pressure gates.”

New safety gates that meet safety standards display a certification seal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). If you have an older safety gate, be sure it doesn’t have “V” shapes that are large enough for a child’s head and neck to fit into.

Typical cost of a safety gate: $13 to $40.

3. Use door knob covers and door locks to help prevent children from entering rooms and other areas with possible dangers, including swimming pools.

Be sure the door knob cover is sturdy enough not to break, but allows a door to be opened quickly by an adult in case of emergency. By restricting access to potentially hazardous rooms in the home, door knob covers could help prevent many kinds of injuries. To prevent access to swimming pools, door locks should be placed high, out of reach of young children. Locks should be used in addition to fences and door alarms. Sliding glass doors, with locks that must be re-secured after each use, are often not an effective barrier to pools.

Typical cost of a door knob cover: $1; door lock: $5 and up.

4. Use anti-scald devices for faucets and shower heads, and set your water heater temperature to 120° F to help prevent burns from hot water. A plumber may need to install these.

Typical cost of an anti-scald device: $6 to $30.

5. Use smoke detectors on every level of your home and near bedrooms to alert you to fires. Smoke detectors are essential safety devices for protection against fire deaths and injuries. Check smoke detectors once a month to make sure they’re working. If detectors are battery-operated, change batteries at least once a year, or consider using 10-year batteries.

Typical cost of a smoke detector: less than $10.

6. Use window guards and safety netting to help prevent falls from windows, balconies, decks and landings. Window guards and safety netting for balconies and decks can help prevent serious falls. Check these safety devices frequently to make sure they are secure and properly installed and maintained. There should be no more than 4 inches between the bars of the window guard. If you have window guards, be sure at least one window in each room can be easily used for escape in a fire. Window screens are not effective for preventing children from falling out of windows.

Typical cost of a window guard or safety netting: $8 to $16.

7. Use corner and edge bumpers to help prevent injuries from falls against sharp edges of furniture and fireplaces. Corner and edge bumpers can be used with furniture and fireplace hearths to help prevent injuries from falls, and to soften falls against sharp and rough edges.

Be sure to look for bumpers that stay securely on furniture and hearth edges.

Typical cost of a corner and edge bumper: $1 and up.

8. Use outlet covers and outlet plates to help prevent children from electrical shock and possible electrocution.

Be sure the outlet protectors cannot be easily removed by children and are large enough so that children cannot choke on them.

Typical cost of an outlet cover: less than $2.

9. Use a carbon monoxide (CO) detector outside bedrooms to help prevent CO poisoning. Consumers should install CO detectors near sleeping areas in their homes. Households that should use CO detectors include those with gas or oil heat or with attached garages.

Typical cost of a carbon monoxide (CO) detector: $30 to $70.

10. Cut window blind cords; use safety tassels and inner cord stops instead to help prevent children from strangling in blind-cord loops. Window blind cord safety tassels on miniblinds and tension devices on vertical blinds and drapery cords can help prevent deaths and injuries from strangulation in the loops of cords. Inner cord stops can help prevent strangulation in the inner cords of window blinds.

For older miniblinds, cut the cord loop, remove the buckle, and put safety tassels on each cord. Be sure that older vertical blinds and drapery cords have tension or tie-down devices to hold the cords tight. When buying new miniblinds, vertical blinds and draperies, ask for safety features to prevent child strangulation.

Prices vary.

11. Use door stops and door Hholders to help prevent injuries to fingers and hands. Door stops and door holders on doors and door hinges can help prevent small fingers and hands from being pinched or crushed in doors and door hinges.

Be sure any safety device for doors is easy to use and is not likely to break into small parts, which could be a choking hazard for young children.

Typical cost of a door stop and door holder: less than $4.

12. Use a cell or cordless phone to make it easier to continuously watch young children, especially when they’re in bathtubs, swimming pools, or other potentially dangerous areas. Cordless phones help you watch your child continuously without leaving the vicinity to answer a phone call. Cordless phones are especially helpful when children are in or near water, whether it’s the bathtub, the swimming pool, or the beach.

Typical cost of a cordless phone: $30 and up.

In summary, there are a number of different safety devices that can be purchased to ensure the safety of children in the home. Homeowners can ask an InterNACHI inspector about these and other safety measures during their next inspection.

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Benefits of a Pre-Listing Home Inspection


Benefits of a Pre-Listing Home Inspection Are you selling or listing a home? Here is an article from HomeGain.com about the benefits of a Pre-Listing/Move In Certified home inspection. If you have any questions let me know:
HomeGain Library – Seller Resources
Pre-listing home inspections give both the buyer and seller up-front knowledge of potential repair costs.

Inventories in most parts of the country have been pushing historically high levels. Gone are the days of multiple offers, and buyers camping out and entering lotteries to make a home purchase. With the shifting market, buyers are increasingly more sensitive to property condition and are more than ever asking for full disclosure up front about condition and other factors that affect the value.

A pre-inspected listing makes available to the buyers a full inspection report by a qualified home inspector. The report educates the buyers on the condition of the property under consideration, and lets them know what major potential expenses might be incurred once they close on the house. Then the buyer can decide early on if they want to pursue a property, given the condition. There may be some excepted items they can live with, but others they cannot.

The same report can and should be used by the sellers to assist them in preparing property disclosure documents. It allows the seller to anticipate any objections directed toward property structure and system functions such as heating and air conditioning – objections that may have potential financial implications.

A pre-listing inspection can be available at the property for review by the buyers after viewing the property. The listing agent should also have the inspection report available for prospective buyers and their agents through an HTML link on their website.

While a pre-listing inspection will not head off every potential “deal-breaker” issue, most agree the benefits outweigh holding off on the inspection until after contract acceptance. Here are some of benefits to conducting the inspection prior to the listing.
• Identify defects and make repairs ahead of time. By identifying possible defects early on, the seller is in a position to handle repairs prior to listing, making the listing more attractive and the property more saleable. This may mean more money to the seller and a faster sale. Making repairs ahead of time will limit objections over defects during the negotiations. If the seller elects not to repair certain defects that turn up in the inspection, they can disclose the defects to potential buyers in the disclosure documents. State disclosure laws vary, and sellers should consult with their attorneys on state disclosure laws.
• Aid as a pricing tool. Having a completed inspection report from a certified inspector will help you (the seller) arrive at a realistic list price. If you find out, for example, that your HVAC system shows significant wear and tear and will need to be replaced before the next winter season, you should take that into consideration when pricing your home for sale.
• Provide a feeling of confidence to potential buyers. With a clean inspection in hand after viewing a property, potential buyers may feel more comfortable in moving ahead with an offer. When a buyer can see there are no major defects in the property to be addressed, it is easier for them to determine how much they can comfortably spend on the house. If there is a problem that needs to be addressed, they buyers can write an offer that will reflect the cost of the needed repairs, or they can ask the sellers to remedy the defect.
Best practices in today’s buyers’ markets dictate one of the best things sellers can do to facilitate a sale is to conduct a pre-listing property inspection by a certified inspector, and have it readily available for potential buyers. The more information buyers have will aid in the negotiations and hopefully result in a successful contract.
*Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you would like to schedule an inspection please go to my website http://allpointshomeinspections.org/colorado-home-inspector-reqinspect.html or you can call me at 720-670-0366
Thanks again,
David Hays
Certified Home Inspector
All Points Home Inspections LLC

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10 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home


 

10 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home

By Nick Gromicko, Ben Gromicko, Rob London and Kenton Shepard

 
Most people don’t know how easy it is to make their homes run on less energy, and here at InterNACHI, we want to change that. Drastic reductions in heating, cooling and electricity costs can be accomplished through very simple changes, most of which homeowners can do themselves. Of course, for homeowners who want their homes to take advantage of the most up-to-date knowledge and systems in home energy-efficiency, InterNACHI energy auditors can perform in-depth testing to find the best energy solutions for your particular home. 

Why make your home more energy efficient? Here are a few good reasons:

  • Federal, state, utility and local jurisdictions’ financial incentives, such as tax breaks, are very advantageous in most parts of the U.S.
  • It saves money. It costs less to power a home that has been converted to be more energy-efficient.
  • It increases indoor comfort levels.
  • It reduces our impact on climate change. Many scientists now believe that excessive energy consumption contributes significantly to global warming.
  • It reduces pollution. Conventional power production introduces pollutants that find their way into the air, soil and water supplies.

1. Find better ways to heat and cool your house. 

As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy bills can be reduced through adjustments to the heating and cooling systems:

  • Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be used in place of air conditioners, which require a large amount of energy.
  • Periodically replace air filters in air conditioners and heaters.
  • Set thermostats to an appropriate temperature. Specifically, they should be turned down at night and when no one is home. In most homes, about 2% of the heating bill will be saved for each degree that the thermostat is lowered for at least eight hours each day. Turning down the thermostat from 75° F to 70°F, for example, saves about 10% on heating costs.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat saves money by allowing heating and cooling appliances to be automatically turned down during times that no one is home and at night. Programmable thermostats contain no mercury and, in some climate zones, can save up to $150 per year in energy costs.
  • Install a wood stove or a pellet stove. These are more efficient sources of heat than furnaces.
  • At night, curtains drawn over windows will better insulate the room.

2. Install a tankless water heater.

Demand water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot water only as it is needed. They don’t produce the standby energy losses associated with storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs. Demand water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. Therefore, they avoid the standby heat losses required by traditional storage water heaters. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don’t need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water.

3. Replace incandescent lights.

The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), can reduce energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time lights are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and LEDs:

  • CFLs use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
  • LEDs last even longer than CFLs and consume less energy.
  • LEDs have no moving parts and, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury.

4. Seal and insulate your home.

Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy efficient -– and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills. An InterNACHI energy auditor can be hired to assess envelope leakage and recommend fixes that will dramatically increase comfort and energy savings.

The following are some common places where leakage may occur:

  • electrical outlets;
  • mail slots;
  • around pipes and wires;
  • wall- or window-mounted air conditioners;
  • attic hatches;
  • fireplace dampers;
  • weatherstripping around doors;
  • baseboards;
  • window frames; and
  • switch plates.

Because hot air rises, air leaks are most likely to occur in the attic. Homeowners can perform a variety of repairs and maintenance to their attics that save them money on cooling and heating, such as: 

  • Plug the large holes. Locations in the attic where leakage is most likely to be the greatest are where walls meet the attic floor, behind and under attic knee walls, and in dropped-ceiling areas.
  • Seal the small holes. You can easily do this by looking for areas where the insulation is darkened. Darkened insulation is a result of dusty interior air being filtered by insulation before leaking through small holes in the building envelope. In cold weather, you may see frosty areas in the insulation caused by warm, moist air condensing and then freezing as it hits the cold attic air. In warmer weather, you’ll find water staining in these same areas. Use expanding foam or caulk to seal the openings around plumbing vent pipes and electrical wires. Cover the areas with insulation after the caulk is dry.
  • Seal up the attic access panel with weatherstripping. You can cut a piece of fiberglass or rigid foam board insulation the same size as the attic hatch and glue it to the back of the attic access panel. If you have pull-down attic stairs or an attic door, these should be sealed in a similar manner.

5. Install efficient shower heads and toilets.

The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage in homes:

  • low-flow shower heads. They are available in different flow rates, and some have a pause button which shuts off the water while the bather lathers up;
  • low-flow toilets. Toilets consume 30% to 40% of the total water used in homes, making them the biggest water users. Replacing an older 3.5-gallon toilet with a modern, low-flow 1.6-gallon toilet can reduce usage an average of two gallons-per-flush (GPF), saving 12,000 gallons of water per year. Low-flow toilets usually have “1.6 GPF” marked on the bowl behind the seat or inside the tank;
  • vacuum-assist toilets. These types of toilets have a vacuum chamber which uses a siphon action to suck air from the trap beneath the bowl, allowing it to quickly fill with water to clear waste. Vacuum toilets are relatively quiet; and
  • dual-flush toilets. Dual-flush toilets have been used in Europe and Australia for years, and are now gaining in popularity in the U.S. Dual-flush toilets let you choose between a 1-gallon (or less) flush for liquid waste, and a 1.6-gallon flush for solid waste. Dual-flush 1.6-GPF toilets reduce water consumption by an additional 30%.

6. Use appliances and electronics responsibly.

Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household energy bills in a typical U.S. home. The following are tips that will reduce the required energy of electronics and appliances:

  • Refrigerators and freezers should not be located near the stove, dishwasher or heat vents, or exposed to direct sunlight. Exposure to warm areas will force them to use more energy to remain cool.  
  • Computers should be shut off when not in use. If unattended computers must be left on, their monitors should be shut off. According to some studies, computers account for approximately 3% of all energy consumption in the United States.
  • Use efficient “Energy Star”-rated appliances and electronics. These devices, approved by the DOE and the EPA’s Energy Star Program, include TVs, home theater systems, DVD players, CD players, receivers, speakers and more. According to the EPA, if just 10% of homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 1.7 million acres of trees.
  • Chargers, such as those for laptops and cell phones, consume energy when they are plugged in. When they are not connected to electronics, chargers should be unplugged.
  • Laptop computers consume considerably less electricity than desktop computers.

7. Install daylighting as an alternative to electrical lighting.

Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate the home’s interior. It can be achieved using the following approaches:

  • skylights. It’s important that they be double-pane or they may not be cost-effective. Flashing skylights correctly is key to avoiding leaks;
  • lightshelves. Light shelves are passive devices designed to bounce light deep into a building. They may be interior or exterior. Light shelves can introduce light into a space up to 2½ times the distance from the floor to the top of the window, and advanced light shelves may introduce four times that amount;
  • clerestory windows.  Clerestory windows are short, wide windows set high on the wall. Protected from the summer sun by the roof overhang, they allow winter sun to shine through for natural lighting and warmth; and 
  • light tubes.  Light tubes use a special lens designed to amplify low-level light and reduce light intensity from the midday sun. Sunlight is channeled through a tube coated with a highly reflective material, then enters the living space through a diffuser designed to distribute light evenly.

8. Insulate windows and doors.

About one-third of the home’s total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy lost through windows and doors:

  • Seal all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. This is the cheapest and simplest option.
  • Windows can be weatherstripped with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. For doors, weatherstrip around the whole perimeter to ensure a tight seal when closed. Install quality door sweeps on the bottom of the doors, if they aren’t already in place.
  • Install storm windows at windows with only single panes. A removable glass frame can be installed over an existing window.
  • If existing windows have rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don’t work, they should be repaired or replaced.

9. Cook smart.

An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The following recommendations and statistics illustrate less wasteful ways of cooking:

  • Convection ovens are more efficient that conventional ovens. They use fans to force hot air to circulate more evenly, thereby allowing food to be cooked at a lower temperature. Convection ovens use approximately 20% less electricity than conventional ovens.
  • Microwave ovens consume approximately 80% less energy than conventional ovens.
  • Pans should be placed on the correctly-sized heating element or flame. 
  • Lids make food heat more quickly than pans that do not have lids.
  • Pressure cookers reduce cooking time dramatically.
  • When using conventional ovens, food should be placed on the top rack. The top rack is hotter and will cook food faster. 

10. Change the way you wash your clothes.

  • Do not use the “half load” setting on your washer. Wait until you have a full load of clothes, as the “half load” setting saves less than half of the water and energy.
  • Avoid using high-temperature settings when clothes are not that dirty. Water that is 140 degrees uses far more energy than 103 degrees for a “warm” setting, but 140 degrees isn’t that much better for washing purposes.
  • Clean the lint trap before you use the dryer, every time. Not only is excess lint a fire hazard, but it will prolong the amount of time required for your clothes to dry.
  • If possible, air-dry your clothes on lines and racks.
  • Spin-dry or wring clothes out before putting them into a dryer. 

Homeowners who take the initiative to make these changes usually discover that the energy savings are more than worth the effort. However, you should consider that inspectors can make this process much easier and perform a more comprehensive assessment of energy saving potential than you can. Ask the inspector if they are trained in performing energy inspections.

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Hello world!


Hi everyone!

This is my first post to this blog. Actually I have never done a blog or followed one. So with that we shall begin.

I am a Home Inspector in Denver, CO. My company is All Points Home Inspections. I will be posting various things here from time to time such as home maintenance tips, Inspection news, Real Estate information and who knows what else. If you have any suggestions please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Of course the main focus of this blog will be how I can help you with your home. Take a look here from time to time to see what is new.

Thank you and have a great day!

Dave

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