Now that that the winter temperatures have arrived, know the warning signs of Carbon Monoxide poisoning if you have gas burning appliances.
Do you know the symptoms of CO poisoning?
What’s the best prevention?
Be sure all fuel-burning equipment is installed and operated properly
The surest way to know if there is carbon monoxide in your home is to use a Carbon Monoxide detector. If you suspect CO poisoning or a natural gas leak, leave the building immediately and call 911.
Your safety matters to us!
Have a Question - Ask a Columbus Ohio Home Inspector
Polybutylene was used for many years as piping for plumbing systems inside of residential homes. It was manufactured between 1978 and 1994, and popular because of its astonishing benefits which included:
The Cause of Polybutylene Failures
The University of Illinois at Chicago conducted two studies regarding polybutylene failure which showed that disinfectants used during the water treatment process were the main cause of the problems. These disinfectants causes the material to flake away at various locations within the plumbing system which can result in catastrophic pipe leaks. More than $1 billion dollars in lawsuits have been paid to homeowners who had polybutylene installed and experienced a malfunction; however, these settlements have since expired and homeowners with PB piping are now faced with the costs of repairs or replacement.
Remove Polybutylene Pipes Immediately
Currently, no federal regulations are in place that require the replacement of PB pipes; however, it is highly recommend that you take action immediately to avoid potential leaks and major water damage. In addition, some insurance companies will not even insure the home if PB piping is present.
How to Determine if Polybutylene Piping is in your Home
PB pipes can be identified by the following characteristics:
If you suspect you might have PB piping, contact a qualified Columbus Home Inspector to evaluate your plumbing system.
With the cool fall temperatures upon us, now is a great time to get your home ready for the winter. Below are a few home maintenance tips to get you through the fall and winter.
On The Outside...
Stay Warm this Winter...
For Your Lawn...
Let us know if you have any questions regarding the proper maintenance of your home's multiple systems. Our Home Inspector's can perform a maintenance inspection and guide your through the systems that are in need of maintenance. Contact a Columbus Home Inspector today for more information.
During our inspections, we still find many older homes in Columbus have Knob and Tube Wiring. This type of wiring is a fire hazard and should be removed and replaced with new wiring by a qualified electrician.
The system is comprised of wiring supported with ceramic knobs with tubes that run through the wood joists and framing and at locations where the wires intersect. Knob and Tube wiring is considered unsafe for several of the following reasons:
If you have any concerns about Knob and Tube wiring in your house, contact us to speak with a qualified home inspector.
What is an expansion tank?
An expansion tank is a metal tank connected to a building’s water heating appliance designed to accommodate fluctuations in the volume of a building’s hot water supply system. These fluctuations occur because water expands in volume as it gets hot and loses volume as it cools.
Expanding water volume in a closed system can create dangerously high water pressure. As water is forced into the tank by expansion, it compresses air contained inside of a rubber bladder. Air is used as a cushion because it exerts less force on its container than water, which cannot be compressed.
The function of this bladder is to prevent air from becoming absorbed into the water, a process that could cause the expansion tank to lose its ability to act as a sort of shock absorber. If, over time, the bladder begins to leak some air, a Schrader valve, identical to the fill valve found on bicycle and car tires, can be used to add more air.
What does it look like, inside and out?
Expansion tanks are considerably smaller than water heaters, usually holding about two gallons in residential systems, although tank sizes vary in relation to the water volume of the hot water supply system they serve. The design pressure for which a tank is rated is marked on a label on the tank, commonly 150 pounds per square inch (PSI) for a residential tank.
Not a Substitute for a Temperature Pressure Relief (TPR) Valve
If water heater controls fail and pressure in the system exceeds 150 PSI, or temperature exceeds 210° F, a temperature and pressure relief valve (TPR valve) installed on the side of the water heater tank will open, safely discharging water from the system. TPR valves are capable of reducing water pressure at a rate greater than the capacity of the water heater to raise it, thus eliminating the possibility that water will become superheated (greater than 212 degrees) and pose a serious threat. The importance of this valve cannot be overstated, and it is crucial that it is examined periodically for rust or corrosion, and the release lever should be exercised monthly by the homeowner.
If a TPR valve fails to operate when it’s needed, the result can be catastrophic. Pressure will continue to build in the water heater tank as water temperature rises past the boiling point and water becomes superheated. Eventually, pressure in the tank will exceed the ability of the weakest part of the water heater to contain it and the tank will rupture, exposing the superheated water to air and causing an instantaneous and explosive expansion of steam. This situation can propel the water heater like a rocket or make it explode like a bomb, causing extensive property damage, personal injury or death.
Molds are a type of fungi – neither plant nor animal, they occur as part of the natural environment. Not all molds are harmful (penicillin is a mold). Outdoors they perform a useful function breaking down fallen logs and leaves.
Inside your house mold is another matter. Molds are destructive to the surfaces they grow on such as wood, drywall, etc. They reproduce through tiny spores which can become airborne where they can be inhaled, or they can get on the skin and cause allergic effects, irritation or infection. Some types of mold even produce poisonous mycotoxins which have much more serious health effects, and can even be life threatening for some individuals. Mold likes warm, damp, dark conditions best, but if that doesn't exist, the spores can become dormant for years until conditions are right for their growth.
Perhaps the best thing a homeowner can do about mold is to never give it a chance to get a foothold in the first place. Keep spills cleaned up, repair any leaky pipes or drips, keep your gutters in good repair so that your foundation doesn't become damp. Maintain good ventilation, especially in damp areas such as bathrooms and laundry areas.
Small areas of surface mold are easy to clean. Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. The use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms such as mold (chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended as a routine practice during mold cleanup. After cleaning, keep the area dry. However these methods are not effective for porous materials. If mold has penetrated drywall or wood, these areas may have to be replaced.
Large mold clean-ups (larger than about 10 square feet) are best left to professionals that specialize in mold removal.
At Columbus Advanced Inspections, your home inspector will be a certified mold inspector and can provide expert advice on testing and clean-up. Read more about our Columbus mold testing services.
With summer on it's way, it is important to pay attention to a component that is many times neglected - the gutter system. During our home inspections, we commonly find gutters that are clogged with debris causing water to accumulate. This increased weight often causes gutters to detach or fall off completely.
The job of a well designed and maintained gutter system is to collect the rainwater that falls onto the roof and then direct it to downspouts which carry the runoff away from the house. This keeps the foundation dry and safe from the effects of prolonged dampness and frost.
The main problem with gutters is that they collect other things than rainwater such as falling leaves. When leaves and other material gather and decay they can build up and impede the smooth flow of water through the gutter. In the worst cases, debris blocks the downspouts. The easy channels for water runoff now become dams. The water, instead of being guided safely away from the house, builds up and spills right over collecting next to the house where it seeps in and creates dampness at the foundation. In winter, water which has found its way into tiny cracks and pits in the foundation surfaces freezes and expands, making the cracks and pits bigger, stressing and shortening the life of the foundation and the house on top of it.
Keeping gutters clean is an often overlooked (or perhaps undesired) home maintenance job. It is a job that can be hired out or it may be a task a homeowner may do himself. It can be dirty, messy, and as there are usually ladders and heights involved.
Gutter guards are often sought as a way to reduce this maintenance. There are a few different types:
The hollow cores of concrete blocks allow an easy path for insects to reach the the wooden sole plate at the bases of walls and floors and begin feasting away.
A better method of building the foundation is to have at least the top course of block to be of solid or “termite” blocks. Sometimes, even many years ago, many higher quality builders additionally capped this top course of concrete block with a metal “termite” shield – copper being one of the best and longest lasting materials. This shield is typically a little wider than the block and the overhangs are bent downward to become an inedible and troublesome mechanical obstacle to insects.
The wood frame garage in this picture was built on a foundation made entirely of hollow core concrete blocks. An expensive repair was required which involved cutting out and replacing large wall areas, a section at a time. At the same time the foundation was "upgraded" -- some of the concrete blocks were replaced with solid block and some hollow blocks were filled with a mortar grout. The photo was taken at an early stage of repair and shows the insect tunneling in the wooden sole plate.
The homeowner had purchased the house about 15 years earlier without the advantage of a thorough pre-purchase buyer's home inspection.
Last week we performed a residential Home Inspection at a home built in 1968. Prior to 1980 the predecessors of today's grey or silver "duck" or duct tapes often contained asbestos. The old tapes were generally pale or white in color and had a papery look to them. Not all of the white papery tapes contained asbestos and so a lab test is the only way to be 100% certain. Joints on heating ducts were common locations for asbestos. Torn or deteriorated tape is of particular concern as this indicates that fibers are more likely to become airborne where they can travel, enter the lungs and cause their trouble. There are a few ways to take care of the problem. The safest and best way is to hire a professional to perform asbestos testing and, if necessary, remove or encapsulate the asbestos. Many times outright removal can have the unwanted result of breaking the fibers and releasing them into the air, so this work must be performed by a professional. Because of the the difficulty of containing all the fibers and disposing of them properly removal can be expensive. Often, outright removal is not the preferred method. In such cases the tape is covered with an encapsulant to ensure the asbestos does not escape. If you are a buyer, seller, or home owner and suspect that your home contains asbestos, contact us to perform an asbestos inspection.
Westerville, Ohio -- Reports of lightning-related fires and gas leaks in at least a dozen states have sparked concerns about the use of flexible gas lines made of corrugated stainless steel tubing.
The same type of lightning strikes is suspected of causing fires in four homes in central Ohio over a stormy 12-hour period this summer.
Genoa Township Fire Chief Gary Honeycutt said he believes lightning struck at or near the homes, and the electrical charge traveled along the plastic-coated metal tubing, known as CSST, before jumping to a less resistant pathway nearby such as a metal ventilation duct.
It then punctured a hole the size of a pencil tip in the tubing and created a gas leak that could ignite, he said.Reports of such fires and gas leaks, from states such as Florida, which has a high occurrence of lightning strikes, to those where strikes are less frequent, have led to lawsuits, studies and efforts to better track the incidents.
Manufacturers defend CSST, which has become increasingly common in new homes since it was introduced domestically more than two decades ago, and fire officials and researchers are trying to determine whether to blame a faulty product, unsafe installation or something else.
A class-action lawsuit filed in Arkansas against several manufacturers claimed the tubing posed an unreasonable risk of fire from lightning strikes, leading to a 2006 settlement that was worth up to nearly $29 million, according to a copy of the settlement agreement provided by an attorney not affiliated with the case. Lawyers involved in the case did not respond to messages.
This article appeared on page A - 14 of the San Francisco Chronicle
If you are unsure whether your home contains CSST, Contact a Columbus Certified Home Inspector to evaluate your home and any potential safety risks.
The Inspector's Corner
CAI has dedicated this section to bringing you local information regarding the many topics our home inspectors encounter on a daily basis
We hope this information will help you make better decisions as a home owner, buyer, or seller.
Visit the inspector's journal for great information concerning the home inspection process.