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Fall Maintenance

First, we like to wish everyone a Happy and Safe Labor Day Holiday. Now this weeks blog is about fall maintenance. Just like a lot  of us we are glad the high temperatures and high humidity with rain season is tapering off. The leaves are going to be changing and chillier temperatures at night. Additionally, fall means that time of the year to put a bit more attention on some maintenance for the time of the year. So lets begin with this weeks blog is about Fall Maintenance.

When we are getting in the fall the windows will start to open more, the ceiling fans will be on lower speeds, the yard maybe getting new mulch, and of course our gutters will be clogged from the falling leaves. For some of us on busy schedules we will have landscapers and our favorite contractor taking care of certain outside items. With the kids back in school, now maybe the time to think about a small remodel to the dining room because of the upcoming holidays. Then you have the systems that never get thought of. Below is a list of fall maintenance items that you may wanna check and keep in mind for the upcoming months.

For example. The beginning of every month you want to change the air filter on the furnace. But whens the last time you had the fan on the blower cleaned and the drip pan cleaned out. The ceiling fans with the dust should be cleaned on the tops along with cleaning the baseboards in the home. {Dust mites contribute to allergies} The exterior near the base of the home a lot of landscaping needs to be attained to, like the mulch turning and sloped toward the yard and not the home. With the heat and the rain, you may start to see small cracks in the pavement or driveway, and they should be filled. But the biggest ones to consider are the windows and gutters. Window balances typically fail about every 2-3 years. One reason is they will constantly be in use but during summer they sit and the oil or grease on the balances will collect dirt. The window tracks will be full of dirt from the yard debris. And with the gutters. Yes, leaves falling collecting on the roof in the valleys and in the gutters. This is your biggest yet. Clogged gutters and leaves gathering in the valleys is a main contribute to moisture intrusion. Having proper gutters attached and down spouts secured will assist to divert the water as needed away from the home. And for those who have sump pumps, make sure the battery back up is charged and the discharge lines are free of debris.

These are just some of the many items that should be addressed as we are about to change seasons. Being here in Land O Lakes, Florida we are leaving rain season and will be enjoying the fall too. So we hope this may help. If you have any questions feel free to call us anytime. We can perform and provide a fall maintenance check list for you. Contact us at 352-437-5300 or look us up at; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com

 

Energy Audits

This weeks blog is about energy audits. I am not going to bore you with the formulas used to calculate how your kilowatts used is billed by the electrical company. I am going to excite you to explain how to save money on your electric bill and certain ideas to keep a few pennies in your pocket. So lets begin.

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On a recent inspection in Webster Florida we had a client asking about how to lower the electric bill. The first way is to check the insulation in your attic as heat loss and cold air will be a big factor. But she went on and stated that the insulation was not the problem. What she was referring to was that from one year ago til that day she knew she used less electric as certain appliances and devices weren’t being energized but got the same bill. This is what brought about this blog and how we assisted her to find out what was going on in the home.

There are several types of ways to perform an energy audit. You have the blower door type, you can have assessment from the electrical company to analayize your electric bill then you have what we did. We did an assessment of her kilowatts used in the past 12 months. They usage was about the same per month. However, our client insisted that certain devices and appliances were not being used as she was traveling and turned off certain ones. This is what really brought “the raised eyebrow” If you are being billed a similar amount but using less electric yes the bill should be lower. So here is what we did.

First thing we did was to make sure that the panel box had no double taps. Maybe a neighbor had tapped into their electric box. (Could happen since they are on the exterior.) Then we turned on the appliances. The dishwasher, heat-pump, let hot water in the shower run for 20 minutes so the elements on the new hot-water heater were energized and the well pump was pumping water.  We turned on the oven and stove to assimilate we were cooking. (we did make coffee)  Then had all the lights on with ceiling fans going. And finally lowered the temperatures on the refrigerator and chest freezer to engage the compressors to turn on. Now keep in mind we did check the windows to make sure there was no heat loss. The windows were energy efficient and installed correctly. We even used an infrared camera to determine if there was any difference in temperatures. And for the most part they were fine. So, what is causing this issue.

As the appliances were in full energized mode we went to each one and checked electrical connections, insulation, and checked any electrical components. So first we checked the hot-water tank. That was performing perfectly. Then went down the list of the above mentioned appliances. And here is where it got interesting.

When we checked the loads and amps being used we found 3 aging appliances. We found that the chess freezer was over 12 years old. The gasket on the door was in its bonus life. This could affect the appliance to work more as it is loosing cold air. Then moving forward we checked the fans, the heat-pump and the oven. All working perfectly. So as we are nearing the end of the audit the last appliance we tested was the well pump, faucets and hose bibs. And here is where we found the culprit making the electrical bill high. The hose bibs on the side of the home were dripping. Just enough for the well pump to engage. Then checking the load on the well pump we found that the motor was engaging high amperage. To the point that the breaker did not trip as it was an incorrect breaker installed. The wingdings in the motor were winding faster and drawing more amperage then recommended. And with the incorrect breaker the breaker did not trip. And this would make the electric bill high.

So, in closing we found that that freezer gasket needed to be replaced as this could allow cold air to escape and which would engage the compressor to come on more then it should. The hose bibs were leaking enough for the well pump to engage and the well pump motor using more amperage then it should. Now keep in mind the home owners were traveling so alot of the devices were not energized but the major components were being worked more and defective. This audit assisted the home owner to know how to get the correct repairs and safety devices replaced.

If you feel that your energy bill maybe high let us perform an energy audit on your home. For a minor fee it could save you more then you realize. We perform this type of service in Hernando, Clearwater, Lakeland and Land O Lakes Florida all the time and have helped home owners save on their electric bill. For more information feel free to call us anytime at 352-322-2700 or look us up at http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com  Thank You.

Happy New Year 2017

 

A New Year has tiptoed in.
Let’s go forward to meet it.
Let’s welcome the 365 days it brings.
Let’s live well with love in our hearts towards God and all people.
Let’s walk through its corridors with praise songs on our lips.

Happy New Year to everyone and thank you for another great continuous year. Our normal office hours will continue on Monday 02 January 2017. And next weeks blog will continue as well and will be about building permits and how they can affect real-estate closings.

 

 

New Home Warranty

This week’s blog is about new home warranty.  When we buy a home after 1 year the builder will conduct an inspection.  So why should you obtain a 3rd party inspection on your home. Well let’s begin.

When we buy new homes, we really don’t think of deficiencies with our home. Then after we buy the home, we really do not think of issues with our home after a year.  However, it happens.

When you buy a new home the Realtor will inform you about the warranty from the builder. Now this is nice. But, they just usually say. The builder has a warranty with the home in case of any small drywall cracks so they can come back and repair.  True but not true. The builder is responsible for everything they did to the home. Small cracks to Windows and doors not functioning properly.  And after you move in, if these deficiencies are not corrected promptly the warranty will expire.

So you maybe curious of how a 3rd party inspector plays in this role.  (me too).

Before the 11 month of new home ownership the builder will want to schedule your appointment to do a walk thru and make a list of deficiencies.  This is when you call a home inspector for the inspection too. Yes you want to compare apples to apples. Remember this is your home.  The builder will not conduct an inspection such as a home inspector.

Once the appointment is made let the home inspector know why you want this. And also let the builder know you are obtaining a 3rd party inspection. Let’s be fair to everyone. The inspector will conduct a normal home inspection. Check every room, roof, appliances, mechanical systems and exterior to report the deficiencies.  Once this report is obtained let the builder know.  They will send an employee out to do an inspection. Compare the two reports. Have the builder agree to the deficiencies to be repaired. Then schedule the appointment for the repairs.  This appointment is crucial for keeping do not miss this appointment as you maybe pushed back weeks and then a simple repair may turn into a major job and cause a conflict between the builder and home owner.

Normally, after the repairs are done there will be one more inspection near your 2 year mark. Alot of times it’s a simple follow up. However, things can occur.  Let the builder know and if you feel you need another inspection, then call the same inspection company.

So in closing the main purpose of this type of inspection is so that you and the builder know that an independent 3rd party inspected the home to report the deficiencies and it’s properly recorded. Most builders will honor the reports and repair the deficiencies.  But just in case a builder will not then you have the report to refer too.

If you like to learn more about our 11 Month Warranty Inspection, go to www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call us anytime at 352-322-2700. We perform these type of inspections on new homes in Plant City, Tampa, Hernando, and Pinellas Park Florida as well as other areas.

Also, from our Family here at Emerald Inspection Service, we like to wish everyone a Very Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Pool Inspections

This weeks blog is a topic that people in colder environments are not thinking about at this moment. However in Florida we still use our pools. Most home inspection companies will have an ancillary service for pool and spa inspections. At Emerald Inspection Service, we do as well. But provide this service as a main entity as well. So I wanted to make this weeks blog about Pool & Spa inspections and some tips how to maintain the pool areas. So, lets begin.

Pool and spa inspections are some what simple to an experienced inspector. But for a beginner if the inspector is not properly trained and certified the inspection process can be horrific. Some inspectors today are stating to customers, yeah I can look at it for free, but if you want me to thoroughly inspect the pool they recommend a pool service company. This will increase the inspection process and delay the venture more. We don’t believe in that. Its kinda like taking your car for an oil change to one mechanic then going to the tire dealership to rotate the tires and then maybe the electric shop for replacing the headlamp. YUK. Too much confusion and too much cost.  And for a lot of our followers they know and clients we provide the one stop shop. So, pool inspections has a few major components that we inspect and we have listed them below.

You have the main component, the pump. The pump is the back bone of the system. It needs to be free of leaks, running properly, and bonded. If not there will be a deficienicy on the report. The pump will also allow backwashing for the system, This is something that only trained inspectors should test. Main reason is for the fact you could harm the pump or hoses if too much pressure is on the system.

A few other features on the system is the automatic fill for the water level and anti-siphon valves. The auto fill is a mechanism that detects the water level and will fill up the water as needed. The anti-siphon valve allows no pool water back into the main water supply. These are small items that need to be checked for operation as if either element is failed the water could re-enter the plumbing system or overfill the pool.

From there you have the time clock and pool filter. The time clocks have gotten a bit more complex. The original kind was an analog type with an on and off time. The biggest thing was to make sure the time is set, the stops are engaged and moisture barrier is in place to protect the wiring. Some pool timers are digital and may control the heater, pump, and other elements of the pool. Again, the digital type a more experienced inspector will be able to inform their clients. (as we are). Then the pool filter. There are several types, the main one is a cartridge style. On the inspection we do inspect the cartridge. Mainly to make sure its clean, not torn and no debris in the container. The container is usually under a vacuum seal from the water, so if its not open properly the people near by will get a bit wet. Additionally, the pressure guage should be operating and the glass should be clear and present. If not this is a major deficiency. The pressure should be near 22 psi.

Then the pool area should be inspected. The water should be clear, not cloudy or opaque. The pool lamp should illuminate. The tile and grout should be clean and intact. The skimmers should be free of debris. The pool coping should have no cracks as with the decking. If water gets into these areas it could cause major damage. The railing and diving board should be secure, no rust and free of chips or cuts into the surface.

The heaters when present are normally utilized in cooler months. They may service the spa and pool. This is an awesome feature especially here in Florida for the pool or built in spa. Think about it. Thanksgiving is approaching and we are in the pool that day as friends of ours in the north are a bit chilly.  Anyway, the heaters should only be tested when temperatures allow. Some heaters are gas, electric or solar. The gas heaters should have the lines inspected for leaks. The electric heaters should make sure the service cables are proper and grounded. The solar type heaters are self maintain. The panels need to be free of debris and their can not be any leaks on the system. Solar heaters usually are leased and have a warranty with them.

Lastly we get asked alot about stand alone hot tubs. These are great added feature to any home. Yes we inspect them as an ancillary service only. Alot of the same elements as mentioned above are in these units. The biggest componet to inspect is the 20 amp receptacle and make sure its a GFCI outdoor wet area use. Or check to see if its hardwire for 220v because of the heater mainly. The inspection and write up are the same and it again takes an experienced inspector to inspect these.

So in closing, when we have a pool or spa we need to maintain these elements of the pool. A lot of pool companies do offer a service to maintain the chlorine or salt levels and monitor the equipment. The main thing about the pool is keeping it clean, free of leaks on the equipment and water levels adequate for the pumps.  If you have questions about your pool and spa, feel free to call us anytime. 352-322-2700 or look us up on the web, www.emeraldinspectionservice.com/services.html

We gladly will provide pool and spa inspections in Clearwater, Lakeland, Land O Lakes and Hernando Florida as a primary service. We will service other areas as well. Feel free to inquire anytime.

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Appliances

This weeks blog is about appliances. A lot of us are thinking wow, Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays are near. Some of us will travel to friends and family and some will cook for those who visit. (I am cooking). So this weeks blog is about checking the appliances, making sure they are working properly, performing the routine maintenance and if needed scheduling the technician to service. So lets begin.

When we have appliances we take for grant it that we just turn them on and they operate the way they should. We may clean the oven or change the exhaust filter occasionally. But there is a bit more. Below is some items to think about and maybe some preventive maintenance items.

In the kitchen area, for the range/stove top. If you have gas you want to make sure the burners are working properly and all ignited. A lot of times food products and liquids will spill on to them and cause them not to be fully ignited. This could slow cooking time down. Additionally, before cooking that turkey or ham, clean the oven and use a thermometer to check to make sure the cooking temperature is the same as the thermostat. (Keep in mind an allowance of +/- 10 degrees is acceptable) Range hood fans absorb a lot of grease. Clean the range hood including the fan and housing area. Change the filter with a good charcoal filter and not one that is at the dollar store. The dishwasher is also a biggy. Its a good practice to run the dishwasher on a full load cycle with heat dry. Don’t place any dishes in there. And see how the operation is. This also will flush a lot of small items out in the drain. The garbage disposal, is one that once a week, I place old fruit like lemons or oranges in to clean the disposal out. It also makes the sink smell cleaner too.

Now you may think ok, the kitchen I need to attend too. And above is just a few ideas to make sure the appliances are working properly. But now lets think about the other appliances. In home inspection an appliance can be the hot water tank, the washer and dryer or garage door openers. These items need attention too. Depending on the type of item listed above there are some simple maintenance items to help prolong the life of that appliances.

So lets take the hot water heater. The hot water heater if its electric or gas should be cleaned out once a year. In the tank you get calcium deposits from the water source. And they attached to the anode rod or dip tube. (see picture below) Some tanks you may not be able to clean. But you can always drain the tank and flush out the tank with the water supply for a few minutes. (Now if you not comfortable with this, please call a plumber) When doing this, think about the aerators on the faucet. Change them. They are few dollars and it will remove any of those calcium deposits. If you have any type of purification systems check the manufacture for maintenance and changing filters. For example I change the filter on the ice maker on the refrigerator every November.

And lastly the washer and dryer is one that nobody likes to worry about. But did you know that simple monthly maintenance can make the operation life extended into many years. A lot of washer tubs should be wiped out as this is to remove the residue on the tub. Also, occasionally use bleach on a large load selection and just run. This cleans out the filters and pumps. Your dryer will always hold lint. Lint will hold moisture from your clothes. Cleaning the lint filter is one thing. However, cleaning the dryer is another. I recommend at least 2 times a year cleaning the vent out with a vacuum. As this will help with the operation.

So in closing, as you can see this could be an appliance inspection. It is. There are more appliances in your home as well that should be inspected and maintained. We go could go on forever about this but we wanted to give you an idea of a few.  A lot of maintenance items are easy for the home owner. However, we perform these all the time especially for warranty companies and rental properties. We perform these type of inspections in Lutz, Winter Haven, Ocala and Zephyrhills for example. Of course always around the Greater Tampa Florida area. For more information about appliance inspections, call us at 352-322-2700 or look us up at; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com

Lastly, check out our other websites too. http://www.tampahomeinspectors.net and http://www.brandonhomeinspectors.com

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Pre-Sale and Seller Inspections

This weeks blog is about home owners that are going to place their property on the market after they have been in their home for several years.  There is a mis-understanding about the term, pre-sale inspection or seller inspection. In this blog we will discuss the differences and additionally, as a bonus what a “Move In Ready Home” is. So lets begin.

A few weeks ago, a client asked to have his properties inspected. Basically the client is going to place the homes on the market in the Tampa Bay and Inverness Florida area. As time has gone by since we launched these campaigns we have changed a bit for the market we are in. First we explain the difference between seller inspection and pre-sale inspection. And as you are reading this blog you are asking the same question.

A “seller inspection” is an inspection that a home inspector will report the deficiencies that are to be recorded at the time of the inspection. We consult with the seller to advise them of the repairs that should be corrected, before placing the home on the market. This can be useful in several ways as when home owners are in a home for a few years they get compalicent and maybe their eyes do not see or don’t know what is happening in the home. The inspection report is delivered to the home owner and or Realtor and let them know to correct the deficiencies.

Now lets talk about “Pre-Sale Inspections”! This is our favorite type of inspection. This inspection is very similar to the “seller inspection” but has a huge difference in the reporting. The inspector should be educated to report on how a property should look for potential clients. For example, when inspecting under the kitchen sink, home inspection reports will inspect to see if any leaks and visible water stains. The Pre-Sale inspection will take this several steps further. When we inspect this element, we inspect age, deterioration, condition of piping, and additionally water stains. Then we consult with the client how to improve elements of that part of the report. Now keep in mind, that’s one element of the report. We fully consult each area of our report with clients when it is a “Pre-Sale” Inspection. This report advises the client of how to correct and or update the deficiencies to place the home on the market.

And lastly, the big way to help your property sell quickly then other properties. There is a National Accredited Program called “Move In Ready”!  This program takes the inspection whether its a “seller inspection” or “pre-sale inspection” and make the home “Move In Ready”! Sort of the best of best of both worlds. What Emerald Inspection Service does, we consult with home owners how to take deficiencies on the report and advise them to not only correct but improve the home. When a client decides to move forward with this program, we re-inspect the property to make sure the deficiencies are repaired or corrected.  We place a Certificate that states “Move In Ready”! From there the potential home owner can understand better of the deficiencies that were corrected to make the home; “Move In Ready”!

 

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To learn more about these type of inspections, please visit our website for the following links;

https://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com/move-in-certify.html

https://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com/services.html

Feel free to call us anytime at 352-437-5300. We can perform these type of inspections and many more in a 36 hour notice, from Clermont to Ocala, from Kissimmee to Polk City Florida and other communities as well.

 

 

Water Testing

This weeks blog is about water testing. Water testing is crucial whether you are living in a community that has public water or you have a private well. We will discuss a few different aspects of why it is important to test the water.

In real-estate transactions a lot of lenders will require the future home owner to obtain a water test when the property has a private well.  This maybe for FHA/VA funding. When performing the test there are 3 parts. We test for bacteria, lead and nitrates. The test capsules are rushed to a lab for next day early am delivery. Our lab that we use we have the results within 48-72 hours.  We review the report with our clients then send it immediately to  the client. Sometimes the lab report will come back with a fail for one of the tests. Does this mean the well is not suitable for drinking water. No. Alot of times it could be minor maintenance and updates needed for the drinking water to be safe. A well is just like any other part of the home. It has components that need to be maintained. This is one area that is a lot of times forgotten about in a home. So you may ask, I have been in my home for a while, should I get mine tested. The answer to that question is yes. If you can not remember the last test results it would be recommended just for simple knowledge that the drinking water is safe.

Now lets talk about, if you have public water. Alot of home owners have invested in a small purification system for water at the kitchen sink. But lets think about that. We may drink the water from bathroom sinks, shower or the refrigerator that has the ice maker. Some may have built in filters that needs to be changed periodically. But is the water coming into that filter safe. It may sound odd but the water traveling thru the pipes may or may not be safe even though it is from a public source. Like the city or a big water tower for the community. As mentioned in the previous paragraph the test is 3 parts. Lead is part of that. Plumbers can not use lead solder on water pipes anymore. As said, lead is part of that test. So it would make sense for piece of mind to have the water tested as well. As the water maybe safe from the source. The travel that it has to go thru may not. The after market filters also have to be changed periodically and the aerators as well. It should be a semi to quarterly idea on home maintenance to change your aerators. Next time remove the aerator from the bathroom sink and you will see debris in the screens of the aerators.

Lastly, in a commercial setting the water should be tested too. To protect the staff of the office. I just found out this week, especially in Hillsborough County, that for day care providers they need the water tested quarterly under health regulations by State of Florida. So in closing, if the State of Florida wants water tested on a routine basis, it maybe a great idea to have the water tested for your home as well.

At Emerald Inspection Service, we do water testing as part of our regular services and schedule this type of service rather quickly. We perform this type of service in a 48 hour time frame in Pasco, Hillsborough, Hernando, and Pinellas Counties. We can perform this in other areas as well. To learn more contact our office at 352-322-2700 or visit our website www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or the EPA page,

http://www.epa.gov/learn-issues/water-resources#drinking-water

 

 

Tools Of The Trade

Camera, Infrared, Endoscope

This weeks blog, I wanted to share is about the tools inspectors use and how they can make a report better and additionally assist the buyers and sellers in an inspection.  Now while each state has its own standards of practice for inspections, normally most inspectors will be up to date on technology and tools.

Years ago, the typical inspector would have a camera, (Polaroid Instant), clip board, electrical tester, and flashlight.  They may have forms that were printed or they just take notes and complete the report when they return to the office. Believe it or not some inspectors are still this way but upgraded to a digital camera.

So lets begin with the inspector of today. When I started Emerald Inspection Service, my initial investment was approximately $700.00. You may say ok, what did you buy. Well first of all, we use a tablet that has a camera and is internet ready. We don’t use our phone. Then over the course of the year we upgrade on tools and equipment.

We use a laptop for wind mitigation, 4 point inspections and Chinese drywall inspections with a camera because of the standard forms. Our digital camera is waterproof and is very high in pixels. We have CO2 detector, for any type of gas lines. We don’t use soap or the bubbles as they will corrode the pipe eventually. We have a million candlelight power hand held spot light. This is great if somebody, painted over an old stain.  We use pin-less and pin moisture meters to determine if any wood or drywall or flooring is holding moisture. If we suspect something in the wall or can’t get to an area, we use a 16’o inspection camera scope or use our endoscope camera. Additionally, some inspectors can not perform energy audits because they are not certified nor have an infrared camera. We have that too.

So, as you can see this is just a sample of the tools in our toolbox. When you are looking to hire an inspector, ask him what type of tools they have. Also, ask them if there is extra charges for using some of these. Some we don’t charge because it makes the report a lot better. However for an Infrared Inspection, we charge in the range of $250-550, depending on the type of inspection.

If you like to know more about this or have questions, feel free to call us or email us anytime. Our office numbers are 352-322-2700 or toll free at 844-RADON-40. Email anytime at; info@emeraldinspectionservice.com

Crawl Spaces

Crawl Space Inspection, Tampa, Webster, Brooksville, Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC

If you live in the Tampa Bay area, Brooksville, Clearwater, or Webster Florida you more then likely have a crawl space or some other style where the house is on bricks, columns or piers. The crawl space is a vital part of the home. You need to have adequate insulation and ventilation for the space. Additionally, this is where critters and rodents like to live too. Each quarter you should inspect the crawl space to make sure there is no pests starting to intrude, varmints residing and that the mechanical is in tact.

The main plumbing service line is usually P.V.C. piping. A lot of times this sits on the earth. This pipe should be insulated and additionally be resting on a concrete brick to avoid contact. The main reason for this process is so the plumbing line does not freeze during the cold nights and erosion. Secondly, if there is a leak on the pipe, you maybe allowing dirt, and other particles in your drinking water. This process is very economical and will be a blessing if you sell the home.

While we inspect the crawl spaces, we look for items such as this, electrical conduit that has not been chewed upon, wet stains on drain lines, HVAC connections in place and not torn, the insulation beerier intact, recommend not storing items in the crawl space,  and no pest tunnels along the dirt or along the underneath of the home.

To learn more about crawl space inspections, go to our website; http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call us at 352-322-2700

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