We were on an inspection last week and part of the inspection is about concrete cracks in the driveway, sidewalks and other concrete areas on the exterior of the home. A lot of times the cracks go unnoticed and are forgotten about. And we do our due diligence by reporting them. But this time it struck me odd. And the realtor almost broke her ankle due to the cracking in the driveway. So I wanted to take this time about the cracks and why they are a so a must to repair. So lets begin.
Normally when we see cracks there is either 3 different causes. Your typical settling and aging cracks of the concrete. These are those tiny hair line cracks that you will notice in the garage, the driveway, sidewalk or porch. Sometimes they appear around the decking of the pool. They are not major but they should not be overlooked. Over time these cracks will seperate more. This is the time to have them repaired and be done.
Then we have the type of concrete cracks that over time have been ignored. The concrete has gotten moisture intrusion and with hot and cold temperatures the cracks have separated more then a 1/4″ gap. This usually happens after a freeze or winter. Still a moderate easy fix. But anyone who wears any type of heal will catch the heal in the gap and is definitely a safety hazard. When we see this, it is noted as well but more of a safety hazard instead of monitor. Now this separating of the crack should not had happen overnight. Its over time. Remember it starts out as a tiny hairline then grows to a 1/4-1/2″ gap.
And lastly we have the omg style cracking. This is usually occured when some type of structural or mechanical elements fail. For example water lines under the slab. Or you may have an area that ground erosion has started to occur. This is a bit more serious. The concrete may have lifted or settled and sometimes be intact. (tree roots sometimes do this) There is a cure to fix this but it will be more costly then the simple hair line crack.
So in closing remember every few months while doing exterior maintenance on the home, walk and check the concrete around your home. Unless you specifically look for something you may not see it. To learn more about this feel free to look us up at; http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or better yet give us a call. 352-322-2700. We perform concrete scanning and all concrete is noted on our inspections such as annual home maintenance, general inspection, and 11 month warranty inspection. The areas are the Gulf Coast, Central Florida, Brooksville, Tampa, Polk City, and Webster areas are just some of the areas. Thank You.
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.
This weeks blog is about wind mitigation inspections. For some in certain places of the country, you do not have this type of inspection. However in the south, Florida, we do. So I want to share with you about how to save money on your insurance and what is actually performed during the inspection process. We perform these type of inspections in Citrus, Hernando, Sumter, Hillsborough, Polk, Pinellas and Pasco Counties of Florida normally within a day notice. We use the Citizens Insurance Reporting Form. There are others that we use but this is the most popular reporting form.
So lets begin. A wind mitigation or wind-borne inspection is a process where the home inspector will inspect the roof for any shingles that may be loose, separated or torn. Additionally check the ridge vent and valleys for defects. Also the inspector has to determine the roof style for the report. And then the skylights. The sky lights will have a rating on there if its rated for hurricane winds.
Secondly, the inspection process is to check to see if there any shutters that maybe attached to any windows. These type of shutters are metal shutters that cover the window or patio door in case of hurricane winds. These type of shutters have a rating that can be used to determine what the shutter can sustain in case of an object being flown and impacts the shutter. This is not the shutter that attaches to the home next to the window or the wood style that close. While inspecting for any shutters, the inspector additionally inspects the glass. The glass if it has sticker that states, Brovard County or Miami-Dade rated then this is additional discount. This is also if you are going to update the windows get the rating for this, to save money on the home owners insurance. After this, then the inspector checks to see if there is any glass block. Some older style homes will have glass block maybe for crawl spaces, bathrooms or part of the wall that allows light thru in a sun room for example. There are different ratings for glass block but also a great idea to have shutters for these as well.
Thirdly, the inspection process continues if there to check the garage door. The garage door normally has a style of missile bracing on the inside of the door. This is to protect the interior. Not necessary the door. Missile bracing is referred to if a small limb or tree is being blown around. Normal garage doors are thin metal and an object flying around can be a missile and go thru the door.
Then the process continues to the attic. My favorite part on a hot summer afternoon. (no seriously) So in the attic, the inspector will measure the distance and determine what the lenght of the nails are for the sheathing. A good rating is usually 8D and about 2 1/2 inches in depth of the framing member. The inspector will also check to see what type of type downs there are. For example, the trusses or rafters may have wraps, or straps. There maybe clips holding framing members to a main roof structure. Then on a lot of newer homes there are bolts that go from the foundation to the top plate of the wall. And of course inspect the framing members to make sure no cracked or split joists. And to check for any moisture or leaks on the sheathing.
Once this process is complete, the inspector has to check with the local municipality to check for any permits when the roof was either installed or re-roofed. Without a permit or any roof information this could be a deterrent to getting any credits for the roof.
So in closing having a wind mitigation inspection could save approximately 10-40% off your home owners insurance premium. At Emerald Inspection Service we can schedule these within 24 hours if you live in or near the areas of Tampa, Clearwater, Brooksville, Polk City Florida. For more information check out our website link on wind mitigation at https://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com/wind-mitigation.html
Or feel free to call us anytime at 352-322-2700 Thank You.
A lot of people are asking what is Radon and how is Radon tested. So in this weeks blog, I want to share about the history of Radon, why you should test for Radon and some of the standards by the Florida Department of Health.
Radon is an odorless and tasteless gas. Radon is a Class A carcinogen, and is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon comes from the radioactive breakdown of naturally occurring radium found in most Florida soils. As a gas in the soil, it enters buildings through small openings in the foundation. Since the building can hold the radon similarly to smoke trapped under a glass, indoor radon concentrations can increase to many times that of outdoor levels.
Radon is a chemical element with symbol Rn and atomic number 86. It is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas, occurring naturally as an indirect decay product of uranium or thorium. Its most stable isotope has a half-life of 3.8 days. Radon is formed as one intermediate step in the normal radioactive decay chains through which thorium and uranium slowly decay into lead. Thorium and uranium are the two most common radioactive elements on earth; they have been around since the earth was formed. As radon itself decays, it produces new radioactive elements called decay products. Unlike the gaseous radon itself, the products are solids and stick to surfaces, such as dust particles in the air. If such contaminated dust is inhaled, these particles can stick to the airways of the lung and increase the risk of developing lung cancer. Unlike all the other intermediate elements in the aforementioned decay chains, radon is gaseous and easily inhaled. Thus, even in this age of nuclear reactors, naturally-occurring radon is responsible for the majority of the public exposure to ionizing radiation. Despite its short lifetime, some radon gas from natural sources can accumulate to far higher than normal concentrations in buildings, especially in low areas such as basements and crawl spaces due to its heavy nature. It can also be found in well and spring waters.
Radon testing can only performed by a Licensed Florida Department of Health, Measurement Technician. At Emerald Inspection Service, we are properly licensed for this service. This type of inspection takes approximately 3 days to monitor radon in the home in a closed environment. The results are sent to a certified licensed lab for radon. A Radon Specialist will read the findings and determine the radon levels. If the findings are above 4 pico curries the home may need to have a radon mitigation system installed. When we test for Radon, we make sure that all the windows and doors are closed, as this may affect the test. Also, if the test results come back over 10 pico curries we always recommend a second short term test. If the test results are under 10 but over 4 pico curries sometimes a long term test is recommended. It’s always best to have your home tested for Radon. Normally this occurs during a real-estate transaction. However, if you have not had your home tested it may be a good idea. For business and schools, they have to test as well. For example, after remodeling a business and every 5 years for schools.
In closing, during the winter months in Florida we get to air the home with our windows and doors being opened. But during the rest of the year we are in A/C mode. Spring and late summer is usually the best time to test. The home is closed for most of the time, because of A/C mode. So for testing in Polk City, Orlando, Tampa or Sarasota scheduling is normally about a week notice. For more information feel free to go to our website or the Florida Department of Health website about Radon. We have a link on our website on the Radon page.