Thursday, July 4, 2024

Secrets to a Cooler Home

June saw unusually high temperatures, even before summer was officially here. With July here and August just around the corner, air conditioners will be running nearly every day. Central air conditioning is a luxury for some, and others cannot live without it. Expecting to keep cool only to have your home or office never feel comfortable can be frustrating, to say the least. While professional service is sometimes needed, there are a few easy home maintenance tips that can keep your air conditioning system running longer and more efficiently.

Most air conditioning systems found in homes are gas compression split systems. This means there is an outside compressor and an inside heat exchanger inside the ductwork. Air conditioners work by compressing a coolant gas and then rapidly decompressing it. When you squeeze something, it heats up; this happens outside, which is why the air blowing off the condenser is hot. If you have ever sprayed a can of compressed air, like those cans of air to clean computer keyboards, you probably noticed the air is cold, and the can gets cold fast. This is what happens inside the part of the air conditioner in the ductwork. This is what cools the air when you run the air conditioner. 

AC Damaged Fins
If the air coming out of the ducts is cool but not as cold as it should be, or the house never seems to cool enough, there are some things you can do that may help. First, always test the air with a thermometer; don’t trust your hand. It’s often hard to distinguish between cool air and moving air that makes us feel cool; this is why fans work. 

On the outside of the home, start with the compressor. Make sure the compressor is level. Erosion can often lead to the compressor no longer being level. Also, trim back any branches or bushes that may be too close to the compressor. You should have a minimum of two feet on all sides of the compressor, and nothing above it for five feet. Check the fins on the compressor. These can become damaged from yard work, being bumped by the mower or toys, or even from animals or pets. If they need to be straightened, this can be done with a fin comb, available at most hardware stores. Finally, check the insulation on the refrigeration lines. The larger of the two should be completely insulated. If insulation is missing or damaged, replace it. The cost of the insulation is less than the cost of the energy lost.

AC refrigeration insulation
Inside the home, check the furnace filter. A clogged or dirty filter will restrict airflow and result in it taking much longer to cool the house. Check the inside refrigeration line for insulation. Finally, make sure the condensation is draining correctly into a drain or a condensation pump. Excess water can affect the life of your system. 

If your system is not cooling at all, it’s time for professional assistance. A complete lack of cooling could be an issue with the controls for the system or a lack of coolant in the lines. A cooling professional should be able to diagnose the problem and provide the best solution. 

These few maintenance tips should help your system last longer and work efficiently this summer. 

If you are looking for a home inspection please contact us

Carey Home Inspection

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Three quick things to help keep water out of almost any basement

 

In the northeast, many homes have basements, which can often lead to water entering the home. Discovering water on the basement floor is more than an inconvenience; it can damage stored items or essential systems like the heating system. Prolonged moisture can also cause mold in the basement or main floor. If the basement is a living area, such as in a split-level or raised ranch, water can cause costly damage and disrupt home life. Some basements are more susceptible to leaks, including those with high water tables, stone foundations, and dirt floors. Regardless of your basement type, there are simple steps to minimize water entry.

 

Ensure your gutters are functioning properly. Faulty gutters can be worse than no gutters at all. Gutters direct water away from the home by collecting rain water from the roof and channeling it to downspouts. Clogged or damaged gutters can overflow, dumping water near the foundation. Missing downspout extensions can also cause this issue. Directing rainwater away from the house is crucial for a dry basement.

 

Check the grading around your house. During rain, walk around the house and note any puddles within six feet of the foundation. Poor grading or even small holes can cause water to pool and seep into the foundation through cracks. Older homes may have water entering between the foundation wall and the footer. Fill low spots with compacted soil to redirect water away from the house. Avoid using mulch, gravel, or stone, as they allow water to seep through.

 

Test your sump pump. If your home has a sump pump, it indicates expected water under the house. Sump pumps collect water from the house drainage system in a sump pit. These can clog, and pumps can fail, so test them regularly, at least once a year before spring. Ensure the pump discharges water far from the house to prevent reentry into the system.

 

The goal is to keep water out of the basement, but if it gets in, remove it promptly. While not all basements will stay dry, these three steps can significantly reduce the risk of flooding.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Home Inspector shares one contractors catastrophic mistake that ended well

 About a year ago, we received a call to inspect a house in the capital district, and the address sounded familiar. I quickly looked it up and saw that we had inspected the house about a year prior, nothing that had not happened before. What was odd was that when we compared the names on the inspection request, it was for the same person we had inspected the house for originally. Upon calling to confirm the buyer, the now owner, told us that shortly after they closed on the house, it burned to the ground. That is not something a home inspector ever wants to hear. My mind went to what we could have missed that would have resulted in a fire. The owner quickly confirmed that we had not missed anything, and the fire had nothing to do with us. Before moving in, the new owners had the floors refinished, and the contractor left a bucket of oil-soaked rags on the enclosed porch. The sunlight heated the rags, resulting in spontaneous combustion when no one was home. The house burned to the ground quickly because of the active and open construction that was occurring. Fortunately for them, the insurance company covered the entire replacement cost. It was remarkable comparing the original inspection to the new one; the footprint of the house was the same with only minor changes. The interior was completely refinished, and the basement was expanded. It was great to see the similarities and differences between the two inspections. Many home-buyers opt to perform renovations, both large and small, before moving into their new home. Ensuring that the house is properly and fully insured and that all contractors are licensed, qualified, and insured themselves is also important. Fortunately, no one was injured and only limited personal belongings were lost in this case.

www.careyhomeinspection.com

Sunday, April 7, 2024

The Importance of Solar System Inspection When Buying a Home

 

In a time where sustainability and renewable energy are on the minds of many, the installation of solar panel systems has become increasingly common. When buying a property with an existing solar panel system, you could assume that all is well and the system is working fine. However, like all things in a home, issues, damage, age, weather, and other factors could have affected the performance and operation of the system. An inspection that includes the solar electric system is encouraged whenever a home with solar panels is purchased.


The significance of a solar system inspection cannot be overstated. This inspection is a critical evaluation of the system's condition, performance, and potential future expenses. Here's what's included.


Solar Panels:

Solar panels are the heart of any solar energy system. These photovoltaic cells harness sunlight and convert it into electricity. During an inspection, we assess the physical condition of the panels, checking for any signs of damage, such as cracks, corrosion, or loose connections. We also confirm the panels are properly secured to the roof or ground mounting system.


Solar System Inverters:

Inverters play a pivotal role in converting the direct current (DC) produced by solar panels into alternating current (AC) that can be used to power household appliances. Malfunctioning inverters can significantly hamper the performance of a solar system. We examine inverters for signs of wear and tear, and confirm they are working. Upgrading or replacing inverters can be costly, so identifying any issues before purchase is important.


Net Meters:

Net meters are essential components for homes with grid-tied solar systems. They measure the amount of electricity generated by the solar panels and any surplus energy that is fed back into the grid. During an inspection, we confirm a net meter has been installed. Faulty net meters could result in inaccurate billing and money lost.


AC Connections:

The AC connections of a solar system ensure seamless integration with the existing electrical infrastructure of the property. We examine these connections to confirm they are properly installed and functioning correctly. Any loose connections or wiring issues could pose safety hazards and may need immediate attention.


We not only inspect solar systems, we use them. With over 48 solar electric or solar thermal panels in use at our own property we understand the cost and operation involved in these systems. Helping our buyers make informed decisions is what we do as inspectors. Schedule your next inspection at www.careyhomeinspection.com



Friday, February 16, 2024

Fireplace and wood stove safety

Fireplace inspection
Fireplaces and wood stoves offer warmth and ambiance to homes, especially during cold seasons. However, they also pose potential risks if not used properly. To ensure the safety of your household and property, it's crucial to adhere to safety recommendations when operating these heating sources. Don from Carey Home Inspection, www.careyhomeinspection.com recommends adding an interior chimney inspection added to all home inspections. Most chimney liners today have unreported defects that can become safety issues if the fireplace is used. 

Installation: Proper installation is paramount for safety. Hire a professional technician certified by relevant authorities to install your fireplace or wood stove. Ensure that the installation complies with local building codes and manufacturer guidelines.

Regular Maintenance: Conduct routine maintenance to keep your fireplace or wood stove in optimal condition. Schedule annual inspections by a qualified technician to check for any issues such as creosote buildup, chimney obstructions, or damaged components.

Chimney Cleaning: Creosote, a byproduct of burning wood, can accumulate inside chimneys, increasing the risk of chimney fires. Regular chimney cleaning is essential to remove creosote buildup. Aim for cleaning at least once a year, or more frequently if you use your fireplace or wood stove extensively.

Quality Fuel: Use only seasoned hardwoods for burning in your fireplace or wood stove. Seasoned wood burns cleaner and produces less creosote compared to green or unseasoned wood. Avoid burning treated wood, pallets, or other materials, as they can release harmful chemicals and residues.

Proper Ventilation: Ensure adequate ventilation in the room where your fireplace or wood stove is located. Install carbon monoxide detectors near sleeping areas and on every level of your home to monitor for any dangerous gas buildup.

Clearances: Maintain proper clearances between your fireplace or wood stove and combustible materials such as furniture, curtains, or decorations. Consult the manufacturer's guidelines or local building codes to determine the required clearance distances.

Use of Screens and Gates: Employ fireplace screens or gates to prevent sparks and embers from escaping the fireplace and causing accidental fires. These safety barriers also serve as a protective measure, especially if you have children or pets in the household.

Supervision: Never leave a fire unattended. Ensure someone responsible is present whenever the fireplace or wood stove is in use. Supervision is crucial to prevent accidents and to promptly address any issues that may arise.

Extinguishing Fires: Use a fireplace tool set to safely extinguish the fire before leaving the room or going to bed. Allow the ashes to cool completely before disposing of them in a metal container. Never dispose of hot ashes in a plastic trash can or near combustible materials.


Education and Training
: Educate all household members on fireplace and wood stove safety practices. Teach them how to properly operate these heating sources and what to do in case of emergencies, such as a chimney fire or carbon monoxide leak.

By following these safety recommendations, you can enjoy the warmth and comfort of your fireplace or wood stove while minimizing the risks associated with their use. Remember, safety should always be a top priority when heating your home with these traditional sources of warmth.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

The Crucial Role of Plumbing Vents: How They Work and Why They Are Essential

 

When it comes to the inner workings of your home, there's a network of systems that ensure everything runs smoothly. Among these, plumbing is a fundamental component that demands careful attention. One often-overlooked but critical aspect of plumbing systems is the plumbing vent. In this blog post, we'll delve into why plumbing vents are so important and how they work to maintain the health and functionality of your home's plumbing.

The Basics of Plumbing Vents


Plumbing vents, also known as vent pipes or vent stacks, are an integral part of any plumbing system. Their primary purpose is to allow air into the plumbing system, which, in turn, prevents the formation of a vacuum that can impede water flow and trap sewer gasses within the pipes. Plumbing vents are typically made of plastic, cast iron, or galvanized steel, and they extend vertically from the plumbing system's drainage pipes to the exterior of the building, usually through the roof.


Why Plumbing Vents Are Essential


Preventing
Siphonage and Trapped Gasses

One of the primary functions of plumbing vents is to prevent siphonage. When water flows down a drain, it creates negative pressure within the pipes. Without a vent to equalize this pressure, it can siphon water from traps, allowing sewer gases and odors to enter your home. Plumbing vents ensure that traps, which are designed to hold a small amount of water to block gases, remain effective in their role.


Maintaining Proper Drainage

Plumbing vents also help maintain the proper drainage of wastewater. Without adequate venting, water can flow slowly or become trapped in the pipes, leading to sluggish drains, gurgling noises, and even backups. Plumbing vents allow air to enter the system, preventing these issues and ensuring wastewater flows smoothly to the sewer or septic tank.


Protecting Fixtures and Pipes

By equalizing pressure and preventing siphonage, plumbing vents protect not only your fixtures but also the pipes themselves. A lack of venting can lead to premature corrosion and damage to your plumbing system, potentially resulting in costly repairs or replacements.


How Plumbing Vents Work


Understanding how plumbing vents work is essential for homeowners and home inspectors alike. Here's a brief overview of their functioning:


Air Intake: Plumbing vents draw in air from the atmosphere through a vent cap or pipe on your roof. This fresh air enters the plumbing system, allowing water to flow freely without creating a vacuum.


Equalizing Pressure: As wastewater flows down the drain, the vent ensures that it doesn't create negative pressure within the pipes. Instead, the air from the vent keeps the pressure balanced, preventing the risk of siphonage.


Ventilation: In addition to preventing siphonage, plumbing vents provide ventilation to the sewer or septic system, aiding in the release of sewer gasses and unpleasant odors safely into the atmosphere.


Size and Placement: Proper sizing and placement of plumbing vents are critical for their effectiveness. Home inspectors should ensure that vents are correctly positioned, have the appropriate diameter, and are clear from obstructions such as debris or bird nests.


Conclusion


Plumbing vents may not be the most visible or glamorous part of your home's plumbing system, but they play a crucial role in ensuring its functionality, efficiency, and safety. Without them, you'd be at risk of foul odors, slow drains, and potential damage to your plumbing infrastructure. As a homeowner, understanding the importance of plumbing vents and their proper maintenance is essential for a trouble-free plumbing system. When you're buying a new home or having a home inspection, don't forget to include a thorough check of the plumbing vents to ensure your investment is secure and your peace of mind intact.


Thursday, January 4, 2024

How to keep your pets safe during a home inspection

 

What to do with pets during a home inspection is often a challenge when selling a home. Ensuring the safety and managing the emotional needs of dogs or cats when others are in their home takes some planning and sometimes help. Our inspection team has several dogs and cats, and we love meeting new pets, but not all inspectors do. Here are a few suggestions to make this process as easy as possible.


  1. When possible, always take your furry family members with you and leave the house. Pets can be a distraction during the inspection. Pets are often territorial and having strangers in the home can result in uncharacteristic behavior such as aggression or fear. Asking the inspector in advance how long the inspection is likely to take and plan to walk your dog or take them to the park if weather permits is often a good idea.

  2. Crating can be a great alternative. If removing your pet from the home is not possible, consider using a crate. If your pet is accustomed to spending time in a crate this can allow them to remain in the home and be safe during the inspection. Covering the crate with a blanket or blackout cover can also help if that is something they are familiar with.

  3. Confine them to a secure location. If a backyard kennel is available, this can be an excellent option, or a bedroom that can confine your pet safely. Remember, the inspector will need to access the attic and plumbing, so a room that contains the attic access or a bathroom would not be a good choice. Also, the inspector will need access to the backyard, so while a kennel is a good plan, a fenced in backyard is not.

  4. Leave notes for the inspector. If your pets need to stay in the home and cannot be confined, leave notes for those attending the inspection. This is quite common with cats. Leave a note on the main entry door that is visible before the door is opened warning of pets inside that cannot be let out so everyone knows before the door is opened to be on the lookout for pets. Leave additional notes on attic or basement doors informing if your pets are permitted in these areas or not. Also, leave a note with your contact information in the event there is an issue requiring someone to call you. If your pets are permitted to leave the house, include that in the note so everyone knows not to trap them inside.

  5. Consider a pet sitter. If pets must remain in the home, ask someone to take responsibility for them. You may be tempted to ask your real estate agent for this, but remember they are strangers to your pet too. A better choice is a family member or friend who is known to your pet. If needed, let your agent know you plan to attend the inspection only to care for your pet at that time. During the inspection people will be in and out of the house numerous times. While care is always taken to insure the safety of your pets, remember the inspectors' primary responsibility is the inspection of the home.

No one wants to return home after an inspection and find a traumatized or lost pet. Your pet's safety and health is extremely important to us. With a little planning and information a complete inspection can be performed even if pets remain home during the process.