Tag Archive | home.

Appliance Inspections

#Appliance, #Inspection, #Bartow, #Land O Lakes, # Sumterville, #Clearwater, #Range, #Outdoor, #Kitchen

Good morning everyone..  This is a blog that I put out once or twice a year.

When we are starting to prepare for cooking our meals we really don’t give much thought about the oven (s) but when we are preparing a special meal like cooking for Valentines day or St. Patricks Day and Easter then we need to give some extra attention to this. And I want to share some points that also should be thought of.

On a general inspection we inspect all the appliances for operation and the systems as well. However, we do not inspect the oven for temperature. And that is where I like to start. The oven is quite simple. You have conventional and convection.  If you have the traditional style convention oven and its electric first thing is to make sure the elements are in tact. Test the oven to make sure the broiler works and oven element. Make sure the bottom of the oven is clean.  And additionally, get a small thermometer and check the temperatures. Set the oven for 425 and check with the thermometer. Every range from your temperature setting should be +/- 5 degrees. More then that then you may wanna think about an appliance technician. Now, if you have a convection oven. Make sure the fan is working with the other parts I just mentioned.

And now you may say what about the oven if its natural gas or propane. Good question, the biggest thing with them is the burner and pilots. Now days ovens have electric ignition. You still need to clean the pilot holes and burner for the ovens. Plus check the temperatures as well.

If you have an outdoor kitchen with propane tank, make sure you have a spare bottle. Never want to be cooking your favorite steak on a grill and poof. No more fire. Additionally, some bottles will leak. Its always best to make sure all the fittings are tight, the hoses are not kinked and again the burners are cleaned.

Now when we get called for an appliance inspection we will do this plus more. We inspect the washer hoses and dryer vent. We additionally, make sure the units are working normally. Then we inspect the garage door for proper operation. If there are trash compactors and garbage disposals we inspect them too. And lastly the HVAC units.

So we hope this helps and gotcha thinking before your next big meal prep. If you have any questions anytime feel free to call us at 352-322-2700 or look us up at: http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com   We can perform this type of inspection in the Tampa, Lakeland, Tarpon Springs and Brooksville Florida areas. Thank You.

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Pool Maintenance

You probably saw the title and thought he does not have enough coffee. Yes in some parts the pools are closed and people are under their covers. However, here in sunny Florida we are still using ours. ( I know 10 days of winter) The main reason behind this blog is not to keep the pool guy employed. But its to make you aware of some things to take care of before we are back in the water. So lets begin.

There is three major components when it comes to any pool.  If you have an above ground pool or in ground pool with a small spa.  The first is the pump. The pump is the brain. And if the pump fails then the pool will get cloudy and eventually black. The pump area has your controls to back wash, clean etc. You have a filter either cartridge, sand or  diatomaceous earth.  And you may have a heater  that is powered by solar or gas. And your control panel. (Little trick, if the panel is not illuminated, check the fuse or may have a battery, this will save you a ton of money.) This entire area is mostly where you want to keep up on your preventive maintenance. For example, the pump constantly runs. If it is noisy it could be the bearings. Some are sealed and some not. But question is when is the last time the ball bearings where lubricated.. Check the ground and bonding wires. Very crucial.  And check the piping and other valves. Is the area free of dirt and debris. No leaks even the slightest will cause failure. And never place plastic covers over the equipment.

Now that was one element of the pool system.  The other two not so intense. You have the pool flooring and walls. Some have tile some don’t. This area needs to be maintained too. Walls need to be cleaned. Tile need to be re-grouted. Skimmers cleaned out and the pool floor is where the algae sticks too. Cleaning the areas will make you use less chemicals so you are not pouring money into it. The lights I save leave alone. If the bulb fails its probably 5 yrs old. If it fails shortly after you replace it. Then you may have an electrical issue.

The last part is the decking. In ground pools will have brick along the edge with concrete. Above ground may have a deck wrapped around. This area is always forgotten. The water splashes into the bricks and sand dissipates. The wood gets wet and never power washed and resealed with a stain and sealer.  Some may have an expansion joint and this needs to be checked too. Very minor maintenance to take care of.

So as we here in Florida  may still use our pools now is the time to get that maintenance done.  Because in 8 weeks we will be in our pools more then we think. As for our friends and family in the extreme chilly winter, keep this as a reference. Because in March pool companies will start up with the cleaning and maintenance.

If you have any questions about pool maintenance or want us to inspect the pool equipment, feel free to call us anytime. 352-322-2700. Or email, info@emeraldinspectionservice.com.  We proudly do our inspections from Palm Harbor, to Hernando and from Polk City, to Leesburg Florida.

qwESHih

 

Heat Loss

This weeks blog is about the dreaded heat switch.  Our blogs this year some will have a twist with guest bloggers from the industry and few topics that haven’t been talked about before. The biggest thing is making sure our information is correct and up to date. This weeks blog is about heat loss. So, lets begin.

When it comes to heat loss we really do not think about it until the outside temperatures are cold. Cold enough for us to put the dreaded heat switch on. A lot of us will try to put extra layers on before that happens. And some just accept the fact. (me I dread the heat)

Lately you may have noticed the heat comes on and goes off. And if it is doing it more than coming on for about 15 minutes per 50 minutes you could be experiencing heat loss. Now homes will loose heat. Unless you are in a new condo or apartment you will. Doors, windows, fans will allow cold air in and heat out. This is normal and we aren’t trying to sell you a remodel.  But this will tell you how much and what to do.

What we tell customers before we do an inspection or service for this we ask them to go to the windows or door with heat off and ask them to place a match or lighter next to the area. If the flame is moving slightly you will be experiencing heat loss. We will use infrared technology to determine this.  Also, if you feel the ceiling is cold some insulation maybe needed to upgrade.

Now you maybe asking ok, what do I do. Well the minimum is put plastic on the windows. Bubble wrap is a good inexpensive way. Another is check to make sure the caulking is good. Not cracked or missing. Check the insulation in the attic. If its blown and dense, you may need to upgrade. Also you can call us to perform an energy audit, infrared test or blower door test.  And one last thing. Your thermostat. If its old, or in a spot near the door or windows, consult with an HVAC contractor.

We hope this helps with the dreaded heat button. If you have any questions, feel free to call us anytime or look us up at www.emeraldinspectionservice.com

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

 

Pool Maintenance

Well we are all in the middle of summer. A lot of us enjoying the pool with family and friends. The night time cook outs with the kids and just soaking up the sun. Some of us enjoy the pool all year long. While some of us have the use of the pool til September. While we are on inspections we perform the pool inspection for clients. But that unknown fact of maintenance is more important for life long time of the systems. So I wanted to share with you some basic tips to keep the pool dude away and save you some money. So lets begin.

First its important to maintain the pool water area at all times with the right chlorine or salt balance. Too much or too little will affect the water and your skin. If we get a heavy rain for few days it is best to shock the water. This kills off the algae. And yes you have the leaves that we all hate, but they have to be skimmed daily too. But there is a bit more too it then just that. For example, the coping and tile. These areas will receive the abuse from the sun, the water and just usage. It is a good idea to check to make sure the grout is in tact, the coping sealant is not shrinking or ruffled and no loose tiles. This is also easy maintenance items that a home owner can do or the pool dude.

Now lets get into the pump area. It may seem like its a maze but really it isn’t. The time clock if it is analog you want to make sure that the stops are on tightly. That the weather cover is in tact and that the clock is set properly. Nothing like having the pump come on at 3 am.  And here is the mystery math about how long to run the pump. You should run it 1 hour per 10 degrees of outside temperature. So for example if its 90 degrees you should run the pump 9 hours.

Of course we will be gladly to assist you with this or contact your local pool maintenance company. We inspect pools as a primary service in the Clearwater, Ocala, Tampa and Lakeland Florida areas. We will go to other communities as well. http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com

Thank You.

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.

GFCI Receptacles and Breakers

Our last 2 blogs have been on electrical. Double taps and AFCI circuit breakers. This will be the 3rd part of the electrical. The purpose of these 3 blogs were to show home owners electrical safety, electrical components and how the electrical theory has developed from the knob and tube wiring. So with that said lets begin with GFCI’s.

As we mentioned last week a GFCI receptacle is a device that shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that current is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person. It is used to reduce the risk of electric shock, which can cause the heart to stop or cause burns. They can also prevent some fires, like when a live wire touches a metal conduit.

And as we mentioned last week the difference between AFCI and GFCI is one is to prevent fires mainly and the other to prevent shock. But with GFCI’s you also may have GFCI breakers. Yes I know, lets add bit more confusion. The main purpose of the GFCI breaker maybe, older homes that have had electrical upgrades. Especially from the 2 prong receptacles. You will see GFCI breakers protecting the kitchen and bathroom receptacles. But you may have a receptacle or ceiling fixture connected to these as well, in an adjoin room. Occassionally during a home inspection a GFCI Receptacle will be installed and installed improperly in a bathroom or kitchen. So it maybe necessary to have the GFCI breaker installed as well. 

So in conclusion. GFCI’s are very effective and a need for the home. However just like any device it has to be installed correctly. This as to not have any open grounds or reverse polarity. So please do not be an expert and think you can add these devices to your home, unless you are trained to do so. To find out more about this, feel free to call us at 352-322-2700. Look us on the web; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or www.brandonhomeinspectors.com  Thank you all again.

 

 

Double Taps On Breakers

This weeks blog is about “double taps”. During the inspection process we inspect all electrical panels. There are several reasons why this process is done. And in this blog I am going to share about electrical inspections and electrical safety. So lets begin.

During the inspection process part of the electrical inspection is to inspect the panel box and sub-panel boxes. In Florida, we have with new construction a main breaker at the meter then that feeds to the panel box that maybe in the garage or bedroom. This is nice when a technician has to work on the panel. So while inspecting we check both. A lot of times the main disconnect may have a breaker for outside lighting or the pool equipment. With some homes, they almost use it as the main panel to feed the shed and/or other equipment. However, we also have the double tap as well.

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Some non-experienced workers will run a feed for an exterior circuit to the main electric feeds. Or if there is a small amp circuit for an additional receptacle they will tap off a 20 amp breaker because the panel box is full. Neither are appropriate and are not safe. The entire purpose of the breakers are in-case the amperage is to high the breaker will trip. Imagine operating heavy mechanical equipment that require 30 amps in your bedroom from the circuit that is only 15 amps. The circuit will trip every time and then the eventually cause damage to the main. As so this is true double tapping any other breaker or main. If the panel is full then either a sub-panel is needed or a complete upgrade. Yes it can be costly but it is safer. Now I have seen also where people will install an exterior receptacle and tap it to an appliance breaker. This is not good either. The starting amps for an appliance is going to be within 10% of the breaker allowed amperage. So if there is a tap to the heat-pump for that circuit and the unit comes on as you start up a weed wacker again you could trip the breaker or cause more damage then known.

So whats the solution. When adding additional circuits there is a proper process. Yes you can look on the internet but if you do not know electrical math to gain the resistance and amperage of a said circuit you could really do damage to the homes wiring. When we find these deficiencies we immediately tag the circuit. If the circuit is not energizing any food appliances we suggest to the home owner or agent that we would like to shut off the breaker as it is unsafe.  This deficiency is marked in the report and we usually have to do a return visit to inspect the deficiency being corrected.  By no means is this a deal killer for a transaction but it needs to be attended too.

For more information about electrical inspections and double taps, feel free to call us anytime. 352-322-2700. Or look us up at, www.brandonhomeinspectors.com or www.emeraldinspectionservice.com We perform this type of inspection solely or with a 4 point inspection and general inspection in the Tampa, Hudson, Hernando, and Clermont Florida areas.

Dirty Air Vents

Well we have 4 weeks to go till the end of the year. We will have blogs leading up til then, but a little secret, 2 will be wishing you happy holidays. As 2016 rolls to an end the next 3 blogs will be informative of changes in the season and season changes in the home or office. So this week, I want to blog about dirty air vents and the air filter. So lets begin.

When we see dirty air vents, it mainly means there is a lot of dust or airborne dirt in the air. You may have dirty air vents and clean daily. This does not mean you are not taking care of your home. When we clean we really do not think of the air vent or inside the duct for the HVAC system. This is an area that really is not maintained and a lot of us including me sometimes forget about the return air filter too.

So to really talk about this, when an air vent is dirty a lot of times the dirt or dust is coming from the ground and being brought up to the ceiling area. Some of us will have the vents in the floor and dirt and debris will collect quicker. Just as an FYI, when you see air vents or registers in the floor they are normally from a northern or cold environment. As in Florida and in the south they are in the ceiling for the warmer and hot environment. Either way they should be cleaned monthly or at the minimum every 3 months. The main reason of cleaning the vents is because you do not want debris collecting into the vent or dust gathering and being brought back to the fan and unit. Eventually you will decrease the life of the components and have costly repair bills unexpectedly.

So, maybe you are thinking how the hell did the dirt or dust get there, whether in the ceiling or in the floor. This is elementary. Dirt or dust will collect and follow to any type of air flow. For floor vents the air maybe pushing the air up but when the system is off, then you have an opening to allow particles to collect. As far as ceiling vents, they collect dust particles from ceiling fans and centrifugal force. In the south we use our AC mostly due to the weather. Ceiling fans are a must, to manage the energy bill. But here is a secret that a lot of us forget. When we clean we usually forget about our baseboards. Originally the base boards back in the 1800’s were called dust boards. People had hardwood flooring and the dust collected from there. Another tip, in the early days crown molding was placed in rooms. Yes decorative and creative. But my great grandmother would wipe down the trim once a week to eliminate the dust in the ceiling area.

So, lets not forget about the return air filter. This is crucial to keeping the life expectancy of your system. A dirty filter will decrease the life expectancy of any element of the HVAC system by at least 30%. This will be next weeks blog about your filter.

So in closing, when you are doing your main monthly cleaning, think about the areas we normally do not see. The entertainment center, the dresser that collects papers, the desk of files. All this will collect dust and send into the air and you will breathe it. We are approaching the holidays and we do not want to show a dirty home. Also, do you really want Aunt Iris to say, I sneezed and coughed when I was at your house but when I got home I was fine. Simple tips are best and thank you again for following my blog.

To learn more about this blog call us anytime at 352-322-2700 or follow us on the web at: www.emeraldinspectionservice.com Thanks again.

Away From Home Inspections

First I wanted to let everyone know that I am near Tampa Florida and Hurricane Mathew had no affect on me. I got just a little rain. So today, I wanted to share about a type of inspection that people hardly have anymore. This type is for when people are away from their homes. So lets begin.

An away from home inspection is the type of inspection to give people that are traveling or part time residents piece of mind about their homes. This type of inspection is very economical and the owner of the property sets the standard. For example. Lets say you are away for work or vacation for 10 days. Emerald Inspection Service can visit the property once or twice and make sure that the home or condo is OK.  Some clients want us to just check the exterior to make sure that there is no broken glass, the landscaper has cut the grass on there scheduled day and to make sure there is no damage to the property.  A more extensive inspection would be for us to enter the property and make sure that the electrical system is operating normal. There were no leaks that occurred and that the HVAC system is operating.

A lot of people do not think about this type of inspection because they fear the cost. Or they may think, I just get a neighbor to keep an eye out. OK, our reply to this is 2 fold. One, the cost starts at $25.00 and second part is what if your neighbor gets sick or has to go out of town un-expectantly. Hiring a professional inspection firm is your best way to know that your property is being watched and you will have total piece of mind.  To inquire about this service or others we do, visit us on the web; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call us at 352-322-2700. We gladly perform these inspections in Land O Lakes, Lakeland, Tarpon Springs and Brooksville Florida all the time.

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