May is Air Quality Month

 

How do you know if the air in your house or workplace is clean?   The indoor air you breathe can be hazardous to your health without any telltale signs.  In fact, Indoor air can be even more polluted than the air outdoors.

Most of our time is spent indoors so breathing healthy air where we live and work is critical.  Poor indoor air quality can cause or contribute to the development of infections, lung cancer and chronic lung diseases such as asthma. People who already have lung disease are at greater risk.

The American Lung Association lists the following as common indoor pollutants that contribute to unhealthy air.

  • Asbestos
  • Bacteria and viruses
  • Building and paint products
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Carpets
  • Cleaning supplies and household chemicals
  • Cockroaches
  • Dust mites and dust
  • Floods and water damage
  • Formaldehyde
  • Lead
  • Mold and dampness
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Pet dander
  • Radon
  • Residential Wood burning
  • Second hand smoke
  • Volatile Organic Compounds

Find out more by visiting the American Lung Association at https://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/indoor/

 

 

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We Drone On …

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Cracked Chimney

rubber dormer
Patched Dormer -rubber roofing; Deteriorated roofing

 

 

After a bunch of research, I purchased a Phantom 4Pro by DJI late last spring.  Following a short learning curve, I added it to my inspection tool arsenal to take pictures of roofs, chimneys and other exterior areas that previously were difficult to reach by ladder.

The Phantom 4Pro features a 4K camera that produces video and still photos with pristine clarity.  The video image can be zoomed in so that the smallest crack in a chimney’s masonry or missing shingle or roof cap are readily visible.  I now supplement my inspection reports with images taken by the Phantom 4Pro.

I recently inspected a commercial shopping center.  Even though I walked the flat roof as part of the inspection, the drone images captured better overall pictures of the roofs condition than did my Canon digital camera. Additionally the aerial view of the parking lot was able to confirm the drainage and potential water/flood problem areas.

There are a couple of disadvantages to using the drone; namely (for obvious reasons) it cannot be used within 5 miles of an airport, nor can it operate on rainy or windy days.  Given that I live in New England, I can only offer it as a resource weather permitting.

The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages; and according to my wife, the number one reason for using the drone is that she no longer wants me climbing on roofs.  I will take that reason under advisement.

See below links for videos of roof inspections for residential and commercial properties.

Commercial – Roof 

Residential Roof

 

 

 

Posted in ASHI Home Inspector, Building Inspections, Buyer Home Inspections, Chimney Inspections, Commercial Inspections, Cracked Chimney, Drone Image, Drone Phantom 4 Pro, Home Inspections, Home Inspections - roof problems, Home Inspector - Bedford MA, Home Inspector Chelmsford MA, Home Inspector Concord MA, Home Inspector Lexington MA, Home Inspector Lincoln MA, Home Inspector Westford MA, Massachusetts Home Inspector, Pre-Listing Home Inspections, Roof Inspections, Slate Roof Inspections, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Just Another Day…….

This gallery contains 3 photos.

but as home inspectors, we are like the postal service – we deliver in all kinds of weather. Continue reading

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Pre-Listing Home Inspections Save Sellers Money

Every inspection evaluation revealed issues these homeowners were not expecting and every evaluation resulted in saving them money.

Source: Pre-Listing Home Inspections Save Sellers Money

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Pre-Listing Home Inspections Save Sellers Money

 

My wife and I call it –“moving on out”  and I find myself being called in to inspect before the home sells and the owners leave for new beginnings.

The transition happens as children grow up and move off to college or work, and parents find themselves in the position of maintaining homes and yards that feel increasingly large.   My neighborhood in Middlesex County, is experiencing such a transition and in the last couple of months, I have been asked to “evaluate” a half dozen homes for sellers who have either listed their homes or are planning to put them on the market this spring.  Every inspection evaluation revealed issues these homeowners were not expecting and every evaluation resulted in saving them money.

The primary reason, in my opinion, is that once Sellers were armed with a comprehensive, inspection summary, replete with photos and infra-red images and diagnostics, they had the time advantage to make repairs in advance of an offer being accepted, and avoid being caught off guard during the inspection- purchase and sale agreement -timeline wherein sellers and buyers negotiate credits and /or repairs of defective conditions found by the buyer’s home inspector.   If sellers did not repair defective items, they could instead choose to disclose them to the buyer or wait to see how the Buyer’s home inspector frames them.  If disclosed in advance, then Buyers offers were in theory “accepting” the disclosed defects in their offer.  If not disclosed, and the Buyer’s home inspector also found them, then most of the sellers agreed to make the repairs or give a credit for them at the closing.  (But Beware, we know of 3 instances where buyer’s home inspector did not find the mold, the termite damage or the defective chimney – clearly not all Home Inspectors are created equal).

The inspection summary includes 1) suggestive comments, ie a dryer vent should be connected through exterior wall using solid piping;  2) deficiency comments, ie moisture in basement is unacceptable due to pooling conditions on the exterior, regrading and downspouts are required;  and 3) positive comments, eg  above average water modulating system for boiler will aid in additional energy efficiency and cost savings.

While the summary is confidential to the Seller, some Sellers may choose to share it with Buyers and we can be contacted for explanation or further follow up should the Buyers choose to retain us.

In our experience, the trend for higher priced homes, is for the seller to aggressively market their properties and not allow the buyer’s inspection punch list to overtake the negotiations and lead to an unexpected price concession.

 

 

Posted in ASHI Home Inspector, Buyer Home Inspections, Certified Radon Inspector, Energy Efficiency, Home Inspections, Home Inspector Concord MA, Infra-red, Infra-red images and diagnostics, Massachusetts Home Inspector, Pre-Listing Home Inspections, Radon Inspections, Termite Inspections, Uncategorized, vermiculite insulation discovered | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trust Assists Homeowners Remove Asbestos Tainted Attic Insulation

The Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust (ZAI Trust) was established as a settlement with WR Grace and became final on February 3, 2015  to assist homeowners with the removal of vermiculite insulation contaminated with asbestos.   The vermiculite  was mined  in Libby, Montana.   Prior to 1990, approximately 80% of the vermiculite sold in the United States came from this mine.  The product was sold under the name of “Zonolite”

Eligible claimants may be reimbursed up to a ceiling of 55% of a $7,500.00 removal bill. In order to qualify , a homeowner who has incurred an expense to remove, abate or contain the Zonolite Attic Insulation (ZAI) must submit a Claim and a sample.  If hiring a professional to take the sample, a $100 sampling fee may be reimbursed, at the Trust’s discretion. The claim form can be found at the ZAI Trust Website: http://www.zonoliteatticinsulation.com  along with details that must be followed to submit a claim.

Home Inspectors are expected to identify vermiculite attic insulation and provide their clients with a letter informing them about the trust’s purpose and possibility or reimbursement. A sample letter is on our website at http://www.abbeyhomeinspections.com

Posted in Buyer Home Inspections, Energy Efficiency, Home Inspections, Infra-red images and diagnostics, Pre-Listing Home Inspections, Termite Inspections, vermiculite insulation discovered | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ice Dam Follow up

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At an inspection this week, I observed an ice dam where the water backed up the roof into the attic , then dripped down through eaves to the exterior clapboard and refroze down the side of the building causing a spectacular ice fall

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Ice Dams and How to Prevent Them

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By Albert Innamorati, Licensed Home Inspector

Ice dams are widely found on roofs in New England where winter storms deposit heavy amounts of snow , .  Ice dams form along the valleys, dormers and edges of roof surfaces. They can form anywhere but especially on surface of roofs with a lower than average slopes (less than 15º).  Also, the formation of ice damming occurs when warmer air from the home escapes to the attic space causing the snow to melt the snow just above it.  As the melting snow runs down the roof, it collects along the overhanging soffits, which has no thermal insulation and is therefore colder.  The water refreezes before it drops off the roof’s edge and in the gutters – if installed.  It builds a dam along the eaves. Subsequent snow melt gets blocked by the dam and backs up the roof under the shingles and into the interior spaces (house ceilings and walls).

There are ways to reduce ice damming, some of which are listed below:

  • Starting at the first snow fall and everyone thereafter, rake the snow off the roof along the perimeter at least 36” back
  • Install heating coils or heating mesh or standing seam metal roofing along the edge of the roof;
  • Air seal the attic flat; to reduce warmer condition air from escaping
  • Install extra roof ventilation (this also helps reduce moisture in the attic during humid summers); may include mechanical fan or turbines
  • On new construction, install ice and water shield below shingles 72 inches up from roof edges.

Evidence found from Ice Dams on interior spaces include:

As a homebuyer or homeowner,  be  on the lookout for evidence of past ice dams such as

  • Discoloration of ceiling paint below roof valleys;
  • Stains on trim over picture windows;
  • Hacked roof shingles, dented rain gutters and /or torch marks;
  • Electrical cords in gutter downspouts ; and
  • Stain on basement sill.

Albert Innamorati founded Abbey Inspection Services in 1990. He is a certified home inspector, ASHI member and radon measurement specialist. Visit his website at www.abbeyhomeinspections or email him at abbeyinsp@comcast.net if you have questions regarding this article or other inspection issues.

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My Wife finds Holmes Inspections Annoying

OK, I have to admit, my wife and I occasionally watch HGTV on Sunday evenings when Holmes on Holmes and Holmes Inspections air for 4-5 back to back episodes.  She can usually only take so much.  “Where do they find these hapless homeowners” she asks, or “why does he not mention home inspectors are bound to standards of practice which define what an inspector is required to inspect and what he/she isnt’.

While the production crew must find houses with glaring defects, which the homeowner only finds out after they purchase, the bottom line is his approach draws viewers to the conclusion that many home inspectors are incompetent and hackers. And I hate to admit it, but my wife is correct.  The standards of practice for ASHI as well as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are detailed criteria setting forth what an inspector is required to observe and what falls outside of the scope of inspection.   They are designed to protect both inspectors and buyers from unrealistic expectations as to what a home inspection is supposed to provide.

Back to the episode in question,  Mr. Holmes was crouched down next to a chimney quietly talking to the camera that they were going to investigate why the water was pooling around the chimney, when what to my wondering eyes appeared, but a swarming termite! It landed on the brick right beside Mr. Holmes, who didn’t even notice it so busy was he telling the camera and his viewers that something was amiss with the drainage.  The standards of practice require an inspector at the very least to be observant to what is readily visible.  I guess I’m glad he wasn’t inspecting my home for termites.

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