Tag Archive | Tampa

Concrete Cracks

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.

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Roof Inspections

We have had a few phone calls from seniors about inspecting their roofs. Now we do a roof certification for insurance purposes, but this was more for their own personal knowledge.  A lot of companies feel that during any type of inspection they just don’t need to walk the roofs. Can’t explain it but to me on any inspection the inspector should get up there. Lets think about it. Inspect roof, inspector not inspecting roof for roof inspection. So lets begin about what we did to handle our client.

While talking to the client and the concern he stated to me that their is companies that are using other companies with drones. {Great, little machine, doing human work} But the operator is not a trained inspector.  The machine will not be able to tell soft spots on the roof and then they will say call a roofer. This is purely bs.. So our office stated we will do a small report and match the drone company report. This was kinda curious for us as downsizing the reports we do. Upon completion the owner of his home got a report and was noted that some warranty repairs needed to be corrected. This then turned into other neighbors near by with the same concern.

Once we were done, our reporting was then sent over to other roofing contractors. So for a short blog this week. Lets think about the next time you need service. Call a company that stands by their reputation and will share to clients why its better to have inspectors with contractor experience then a machine with none.

Thank you again everyone for following our blog and if you need this type of service or others in the Tampa, Clearwater, Hudson and Lakeland Florida areas feel free to call us anytime. . 352-322-2700

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.

AFCI Breakers

Good Day Everyone. This weeks blog is about AFCI Breakers. We are going to explain exactly what this type of breaker is and at the end the difference between a regular circuit breaker and a GFCI breaker. So lets begin.

An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) is a type of circuit breaker that breaks the circuit when it detects a dangerous electrical arc in order to prevent electrical fires. An AFCI distinguishes between a harmless arc that occurs incidental to normal operation of switches, plugs, and brushed motors, and an undesirable arc that can occur, for example, in a lamp cord which has a broken conductor. (technical definition)

With today’s electrical code many homes have been upgraded with this device or they are installed for new construction. You will normally see AFCI’s in the living rooms, bedrooms, home office and maybe dinning room. Basically, where there is living occupied space. Where people have basements, there will be AFCI circuits as well. Now do not confuse these with GFCI’s for the kitchen, garage and bathrooms. When detected the AFCI will trip quicker then a normal circuit breaker for that branch circuit. Also when installed you entire branch circuit will be protected from that circuit breaker. The devices are great and an added safety feature for the home. However, the one little downside of this device is the CFL bulbs will occasionally trip the breaker and sometimes the bulbs will not last the life of the manufacture. Alot of electricians will be against the CFL bulbs because of that and additionally, these bulbs in my opinion really don’t save money. They get us away from carbon but I still prefer the traditional incandescent type light bulb.

So, whats the difference between an AFCI and GFCI. Well for one, a GFCI will be used for the wet areas of the home. Kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and in Florida you will see them in garages.  GFCIs prevent shocks, and AFCIs prevent fires. Both should be installed by a qualified electrician to make your home safer.

So in closing, we do not suggest that the home owner or the reader replace the breakers with AFCI or GFCI type breakers. Save that for the professional electrician. However, at Emerald Inspection Service, when performing the electrical inspection, we test both types. Yes, I am sure you have seen the little tester at the box stores for GFCI’s. However for the AFCI’s they are a bit pricier and you will normally not see for retail. Additionally, we also check for heat on the breakers. This is the common sign of the breaker maybe failing.  To find out more about this and all of our other services, that we perform in Tampa, Land O Lakes, Hernando and Clearwater Florida,  go to www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or www.tampahomeinspectors.net  You can call as well at 352-322-2700

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.

Permits

As we are now into the new year, I hope everyone had a great holiday season. This weeks blog is about Permits. Not about home inspectors needing permits, however home inspectors searching for permits on the property they are inspecting. So, lets begin.

Just about every scenario we do, we are always in contact with the local building departments for building permits. At the end of the year a repeat client of ours was purchasing another property. They wanted to know about any open permits since the home had been just recently renovated. So, in our search we found 2 open permits.  Which brings us to this blog.

The work for the permits had been performed correctly. The building department was in error because they did not close the permit. It happens. Now what about other scenarios. For example, there maybe new electrical panel box and no permit. This is always noted on our reports. Or new garage door and opener but no permit. This happens too. So why permits?

A permit is to protect the home owner and government. For example, if the current home owner applies for a permit for finishing a garage area then their is multiple trades involved. Additionally, it protects government because they have a record on the property. If there is ever a bad error then the work can be pointed back to the contractor on record or the building department. Also, if no permit then their maybe repercussions when closing and a property appraiser sees new work that was not properly recorded.  The worst case scenario is a home is about to close and no permit was applied for upgrades and the county records office catches that a new kitchen was installed prior to closing. This will definitely raise a red flag.

So, when you are about to purchase a property or change insurance companies and need an insurance inspection, ask your inspector about permits. It is easy to obtain and we provide this service at no cost to our clients. For more information contact us anytime at 352-322-2700 or www.emeraldinspectionservice.com  Our inspections usually range from Clearwater to Odessa and from Zephyrhills to Hudson Florida areas.

 

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!!!

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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Mobile Home Inspections

Hello everyone. This weeks blog is about mobile home inspections. We did a blog about this a year or so ago and wanted to re-visit this because people have the perception that its not needed. So lets begin.

A mobile home inspection is very similar to our general home inspection. There are a few differences though. First the crawl space has to be inspected. This is a must. In the crawl space you will see a lot of deficiencies guaranteed. For example there will be electrical lines not in conduit. Plumbing pipes will be there, so to see if there is a leak on drain or the main service. My favorite is the main service water line is never insulated. Also you have the vapor barrier. If there was a previous leak a lot of times the vapor barrier will be open and insulation will be dangling.  This is just a small portion of the deficiencies you may find.

Now, you also have the roof and inside that has to be inspected. On double and triple wides you have a “marriage wall”. This is where each portion is tide together. And you wanna make sure there is no leaks. (we use an infrared camera).  So your inspector needs to know where to look and inspect. Also you have a data tag. For mobile homes this is the identification number for each portion. Singles have one tag, doubles have 2 and so on.

Then you have the remaining part of the inspection which is room to room and utilities. A lot of times the panel box inside the home is energized by the main disconnect at the meter. Your main shut-off valve for the water is at the meter but you also have a valve in the crawl space about 6’0 before the water enters the home too.

So you may be thinking OK, this is easy. No its not. A true inspector will have to undergo some extreme conditions to inspect the home properly. Crawl space usually has varmints or water, the roof is hot and need to know where to walk, the main disconnect can have insects inside the box. The reason I mention this is because these are 3 areas of major concern about the mobile home and are usually neglected.

So if you are thinking about buying a mobile or modular home think about these things. You want an experienced inspector that will do, due deligience. We take pride in these type of inspections as this is a major investment for a home owner. We provide mobile home inspections in Clermont, Ocala, Largo, and Winter Haven Florida to name a few communities. We will gladly inspect in the State Of Florida.  Feel free to call us or look us up on the web: 352-322-2700 or www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or www.tampahomeinspectors.net

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