Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday safety precautions

As the holidays are just about here, many people are winding down from work for the much needed break or vacation. As you enjoy this time of year, here are some final tips to keep you, your familiy and your home safe.


Fireplaces
  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
  • Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.  

Toys and Ornaments
 
  • Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age. Some toys designed for older children might be dangerous for younger children.
  • Electric toys should be UL/FM approved.
  • Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords, and parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children.
  • Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted with lead paint out of the reach of small children and pets.  
 
Children and Pets 
  • Poinsettias are known to be poisonous to humans and animals, so keep them well out of reach, or avoid having them.
  • Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child’s reach.
  • Avoid using tinsel. It can fall on the floor and a curious child or pet may eat it. This can cause anything from mild distress to death.
  • Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7 inches. A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around their neck and choke.
  • Avoid mittens with strings for children. The string can get tangled around the child’s neck and cause them to choke. It is easier to replace a mitten than a child.
  • Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended.
  • Store scissors and any sharp objects that you use to wrap presents out of your child’s reach.
  • Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations, such as candy canes, gingerbread men, and mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards.  
 
Security  
  • Use your home burglar alarm system.
  • If you plan to travel for the holidays, don’t discuss your plans with strangers. 
  • Have a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home.
Enjoy the hoilday season. How'My House home inspections performs home inspections in Nassau, Suffolk, Brooklyn and Queens



Thursday, December 13, 2012

More Holiday safety tips


As the holidays approach, I see more and more decorations being placed, both indoors and out. Here are some additional holiday safety tips.

Decorations
  • Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel and artificial icicles of plastic and non-leaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down. 
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp and breakable, and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children.
  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy and food that may tempt a young child to put them in his mouth.
Holiday Entertaining
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S.  When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
  • Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays, and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet).
  • Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.


Trees

  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "fire-resistant."
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
  • Make sure the base is steady so the tree won't tip over easily.
Follow these safety tips to ensure a safe holiday season. For more information, or if you need to schedule a home inspection in Long Island, visit us at www.howsmyhousehomeinspections.com


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's time to tune up your heating system

If you haven't inspected your furnace yet this winter, it's time to.

BY CYNTHIA PAULIS. SPECIAL TO NEWSDAY

Don't wait until the first frost to find out that your heating system is not working properly. Now is the time to get your furnace up and running.
Three heating experts -- Joe McDonald, vice president of marketing at Petro, which serves Long Island; and Michael Matarese, technical service supervisor, and Ed O'Connor, president, both of O'Connor Brothers Fuel in Freeport -- agree that homeowners should have an annual tune up on oil- and gas-fired equipment by a qualified service technician from a reputable company. Doing so, they say, will ensure that the burner is adjusted properly and that the unit is running at peak efficiency. "We do not recommend that homeowners attempt this annual maintenance on their own," McDonald says.
Two of the most common heating furnaces on Long Island are oil and gas. Here are some tips for each type of heating unit that homeowners can do safely as part of the regular maintenance before they have the annual tuneup by a qualified professional.
OIL BURNERS
Oil heat burns 95 percent cleaner now than 20 years ago, due to the latest ultralow sulfur products and biofuels. New York State has gone one step further -- as of July, all heating oil sold in the state is ultra low sulfur heating oil, which is environmentally friendly, burns cleaner and has fewer emissions than traditional heating oil.
Look, listen and feel. Take a good look at your furnace now. You should not have any rust, scale or black soot on the tank. Feel around for any sign of seepage. Turn on the heating system and feel if heat is coming up through the radiators or vents. If there is a banging sound, chances are something is not lubricated correctly.
Check your filters. A clogged or dirty filter in both gas and oil will cause a unit to work harder and longer, causing your bills to increase. Change your filter and make sure it is free of debris, soot and dust.
Keep the area around the furnace clean. Vacuum around the unit and make sure there is nothing flammable close by. Lint from dryers can accumulate near the furnace and create problems with heat efficiency.
Inspect your duct system. See if there are any cracks or disruptions in the duct system
Check your circuit breakers. Oil furnaces have electric power coming to them. That's why when you lose power you also lose heat. The same is true for gas furnaces.
Inspect the flue. A clogged or inadequate flue will cause combustion gases to stay in your house rather than venting outside and can cause a carbon monoxide leak in your home
Thermostats. If you have a programmable thermostat, check the batteries and change them yearly. 


Make sure it is calibrated correctly so that you can get the temperature you need.
Make sure your tank is full. Don't wait for the cold to find that you ran dry or you don't have enough oil in your tank. Get a delivery now and make sure the fill pipe is easily accessible and cleared of debris.
GAS FURNACES
Conventional gas furnaces work by taking in cold air, cleaning it with a filter, heating it up with a gas burner and distributing warm air with a blower motor through a home's ductwork.
Change filters monthly. Stock up on filters now. When changing a filter to a gas unit, make sure all the power to the unit is off. Make sure the filter is the right size for the unit. Dirty air filters will cause dust and debris to back up into the system and can cause the unit to fail or run less efficiently. Look for a pleated filter MERV (measured filter efficiency) of 8 or higher. It will be more expensive, but will pay for itself in the end. Make sure when you replace the filter that the arrows on the filter point in the direction of the air flow. If you have a reusable filter, make sure that it is completely dry before putting it back. Otherwise, you will be introducing mold into the unit.
Clean the area around the unit. Make sure the area around the furnace is clean and free of debris, especially around the blower fans.
Inspect the pilot light. In older gas units, the pilot light is always on. New units have an electronic ignition to light the flame. Make sure the flame is burning correctly.
Get carbon monoxide detectors. Get working carbon monoxide detectors and change the batteries yearly. They should be placed near the gas burner and near other gas-run appliances. Carbon monoxide from gas leaks is odorless and colorless and can kill you.
Inspect your return vents. If your return vents are dusty or blocked, your furnace will not work efficiently.
Have your duct system professionally cleaned. Clogged, dirty or blocked ducts will impede air flow, so it's a good idea to have the system cleaned once a year.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holidays season safety tips


The winter holidays are a time for celebration, and that means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire and accidents. The Long Island Home Inspectors recommends that you follow these guidelines to help make your holiday season safer and more enjoyable. 


Holiday Lighting 
  • Use caution with holiday decorations and, whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant and non-combustible materials.
  • Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings, and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. If you have any questions about electrical safety, ask an InterNACHI inspector during your next scheduled inspection. Do not overload extension cords.
  • Don't mount lights in any way that can damage the cord's wire insulation.  To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples--don't use nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.  
  • Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground-fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire
Stay tuned for more safety tips.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Smoke Alarms and Escape Plans Key to Surviving Fires in the Home


In recognition of Fire Prevention Week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) are providing new statistics on fires in American homes and urging consumers to install smoke alarms in their homes and check to make sure all smoke alarms are working properly. It is also vitally important to develop and practice a family fire escape plan. 

CPSC estimates there were an average of 366,700 unintentional residential fires, 2,310 deaths, 12,550 injuries and more than $7 billion in property damage each year attended by fire service between 2008 and 2010. The top cause of fires in the home is cooking equipment, accounting for an estimated 147,400 or 40 percent of residential fires each year between 2008 and 2010. Cooking was also associated with the largest percentage of fire-related injuries, an estimated average 27.4 percent or 3,450, in the home.

Home heating and cooling equipment, including portable space heaters, was a top cause of fire deaths, accounting for about nine percent or 210 deaths on average, in homes each year between 2008 and 2010. Portable heaters were associated with 100 of those deaths each year.

"Six people die every day in home fires," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "The early warning provided by smoke alarms can make a big difference. Consumers who have working smoke alarms in their homes die in fires at about half the rate of those who do not have alarms."

"Every second counts when there is a fire in your home," said U.S. Fire Administrator Ernie Mitchell. "It is easy to believe that when the smoke alarm sounds, you and your family will be able to escape. A home fire drill can prepare you and others to escape a real life emergency in your home."

CPSC and USFA recommend that every family have a working smoke alarm in their home. To provide better warning of a fire and more escape time, install more than one alarm and interconnect all smoke alarms in the home. Interconnected alarms speak to one another so if there is a fire in one part of the house, the interconnected alarms sound throughout the house and alert consumers to the fire more quickly.

For the best protection, CPSC and USFA recommend installing alarms on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. Install both ionization and photoelectric alarms and make sure alarms are interconnected throughout the home. Alarms that are powered by house wiring should have battery backup.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the death rate per 100 reported fires was 49% less in homes with working smoke alarms than in homes without this protection. In addition to using alarms, never leave cooking items unattended and have a professional inspect heating and cooling equipment every year, including fireplaces and chimneys. Be extra careful with cigarettes and other smoking materials. Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.

According to USFA, the fire death rate dropped by 20 percent over the 10-year time period 2000 through 2009 on a per capita basis for a variety of reasons. CPSC and USFA are working to further reduce fires and fire deaths through education and standards work. CPSC staff is working with other federal agencies on new smoke alarm technology to improve effectiveness and reduce nuisance alarms. CPSC is also developing rulemaking aimed at reducing upholstered furniture fires.

Reprinted from the CSPC website

Friday, September 7, 2012

Stay cool and save money on you AC usage

Summer may be just about over, but it’s not to late to measures to lower your AC usage, while maintaining your level of comfort.

Here are some ideas on how to save energy and cut your utility bills with air conditioning.
  1. Ceiling fans can be used along with air conditioning. This allows for higher temperatures than regular comfort.
  2. Sizing of air conditioning system is very important and has to be proportional to space and people requirements. There are many instances where a window unit performs the function, and so the central AC is oversized. Replacement of an existing central system may be energy efficient in certain cases.
  3. Usage of permanent filters, preferably MERV 13 filters, enhances the indoor air quality and reduces the energy load more than an otherwise dirty filter.
  4. Usage of electronic programmable thermostats, and reduction in the heat generation from lighting through usage of compact fluorescent bulbs can reduce the air conditioning's load.
  5. Extruded polystyrene insulation, shading from trees, fewer hardscapes, green roofs, and locating condensers in a shaded area can help to reduce the demand for energy.
  6. The solar heat gain coefficient and U-value of window glazing is important for reducing cooling loads.
  7. Evaporative cooling and heat recovery are other energy efficient strategies that could be evaluated.
  8. Keeping the condensing coil clean, will ensure the unit if running at maximum efficiency.
  9. Seal house with caulk and weatherstripping in appropriate areas.
Proper attic ventilation is also key to cooling properly and less load on the AC unit.  Also, keep in mind that AC units don't last forever.  The typical unit will last between 12-15 years.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Unknown Asbestos Risks Your Home Could Have

Although homeowners often do not realize it, many older houses are full of asbestos exposure risks.
Until the 1980s, manufacturers frequently used the flexible fibers to insulate or reinforce construction materials. Many homes still contain these original materials, which relied on the fibers for reinforcement or insulating properties.
Asbestos appeared in more than 5,000 different products. Some of these products came from leading manufacturers, such as General Electric and Kelly Moore Paint Co.
Asbestos ceiling tiles

Common asbestos-containing home products included:
·         Shingles
·         Tiles
·         Adhesives
·         Textured coatings   
·         Paint
·         Cement
·         Mastic
·         Insulation
The amount of asbestos contained within these products varies. Some products are made up of only 1 or 2 percent asbestos, while certain cement products contained as much as 50 percent asbestos.  However, any amount of asbestos can pose a health risk if the fibers become friable.
Contact a Home Inspector
In general, homeowners cannot visually identify asbestos within their home. They may be able to see a few loose asbestos strands in certain chipped, cracked or crumbling products, but it is much more common for the fibers to remain fully contained within the material. This actually benefits the homeowner because the asbestos is not a health hazard when it is completely contained within the product. However, it also means that homeowners will need to hire a home inspection company or an asbestos abatement professional to test their residence for asbestos.
An accredited inspection company can take samples of suspicious materials and send them to a laboratory for further testing. If the laboratory tests confirm the presence of asbestos, homeowners should not perform any renovations on the item. If they need to remodel or demolish the part of the home that contains asbestos, they should contact a licensed abatement company to come remove the product from the premesis.  This ensures total safety for all of the residents of the home.
Author bio: Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for The Mesothelioma Center. One of her focuses is living with cancer.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This is what you should learn from your home inspection.

Quite often, our clients ask us what exactly they will learn from a home inspection when buying a house in Nassau or Suffolk County.  Although that list can be a quite extensive, we've narrowed it down for a brief overview.

  • First and foremost, is the house structurally sound, and safe to live in?
  • What is the age and general condition of the roof?
  • Attic and crawlspace condition. This includes insulation coverage and thickness, as well as any water penetration issues, past or present.
  • Are the heating and cooling systems operating as designed?
  • Are the plumbing fixtures in working order and free of leaks?
  • Determine the location of the main water shutoff, determination of piping material; supply, waste and venting.
  • What is the location and condition of the electrical service and panels, including breakers?
  • Are the kitchen appliances perform as expected?
  • Are there any environmental issues in the home; asbestos, mold, radon, or termites?
  • Does the seller have maintenance records they are willing to give?

While this list is not exhaustive, it is a good start for new homeowners to understand what a general home inspection should reveal.

A home owners should never hesitate to ask a potential home inspector to explain what information the home inspection is expected to produce. And never feel uncomfortable asking for references. You'll want to learn as much as you can about your home inspection company BEFORE the inspection.

As always, How's My house Home Inspections is available to inspect your home. We inspect homes in all towns throughout Nassau, Suffolk, Brooklyn and Queens



Saturday, August 11, 2012

10 things you should know about mold

The question of mold always comes up during a home inspection.  Prospective buyers always have a concern if there is any mold in the house, as was the case this week during a Huntington Home Inspection.  All was well until we inspected the boiler room.  The inside wall showed signs of mold growth...apparently from a previous water tank leak. 

So here are some mold basics.  First off, the key to mold control is moisture control. If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly, and fix the water problem.  It is important to dry water damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.  Wash mold off of hard surfaces with detergent and water and dry completely.

Ten Things You Should Know About Mold
  1. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
  2. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
  3. If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
  4. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
  5. Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
  6. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
  7. Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
  8. Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
  9. In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
  10. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
Mold is everywhere, but can be controlled to a certain degree. For more information on Mold, download this guide from the EPA.

If you have concerns about Mold, How's My House Home Inspections will perform an evaluation for you.  To schedule a home inspection, call us at 516-732-7595

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Its time to check your dryer Vent

Dryer Vent Safety


 
 
All to often we inspect homes that have a nasty surprise stored up in a simple, but much needed vent.  Our latest Bellmore Home Inspection found just that. Lint stuffed up in the vent.  A extremely dangerous condition. 

Clothes dryers evaporate the water from wet clothing by blowing hot air past them while they tumble inside a spinning drum. Heat is provided by an electrical heating element or gas burner. Some heavy garment loads can contain more than a gallon of water which, during the drying process, will become airborne water vapor and leave the dryer and home through an exhaust duct (more commonly known as a dryer vent).
 
A vent that exhausts moist air to the home exterior has a number of requirements:
  1. It should be connected. The connection is usually behind the dryer but may be beneath it. Look carefully to make sure it’s actually connected!
  2. It should not be restricted. Dryer vents are often made from flexible plastic or metal duct, which may be easily kinked or crushed where they exit the dryer and enter the wall or floor. This is often a problem since dryers tend to be tucked away into small areas with little room to work. Vent hardware is available which is designed to turn 90° in a limited space without restricting the flow of exhaust air. Restrictions should be noted in the inspector's report. Airflow restrictions are a potential fire hazard!
  3. One of the reasons that restrictions are a potential fire hazard is that, along with water vapor evaporated out of wet clothes, the exhaust stream carries lint – highly flammable particles of clothing made of cotton and polyester. Lint can accumulate in an exhaust duct, reducing the dryer’s ability to expel heated water vapor, which then accumulates as heat energy within the machine. As the dryer overheats, mechanical failures can trigger sparks, which can cause lint trapped in the dryer vent to burst into flames. This condition can cause the whole house to burst into flames! Fires generally originate within the dryer but spread by escaping through the ventilation duct, incinerating trapped lint, and following its path into the building wall.
InterNACHI believes that house fires caused by dryers are far more common than are generally believed, a fact that can be appreciated upon reviewing statistics from the National Fire Protection Agency. Fires caused by dryers in 2005 were responsible for approximately 13,775 house fires, 418 injuries, 15 deaths, and $196 million in property damage. Most of these incidents occur in residences and are the result of improper lint cleanup and maintenance. Fortunately, these fires are very easy to prevent.

The recommendations outlined below reflect International Residential Code (IRC) SECTION M1502 CLOTHES DRYER EXHAUST guidelines:
M1502.5 Duct construction.
Exhaust ducts shall be constructed of minimum 0.016-inch-thick (0.4 mm) rigid metal ducts, having smooth interior surfaces, with joints running in the direction of air flow. Exhaust ducts shall not be connected with sheet-metal screws or fastening means which extend into the duct.
This means that the flexible, ribbed vents used in the past should no longer be used. They should be noted as a potential fire hazard if observed during an inspection.
M1502.6 Duct length.
The maximum length of a clothes dryer exhaust duct shall not exceed 25 feet (7,620 mm) from the dryer location to the wall or roof termination. The maximum length of the duct shall be reduced 2.5 feet (762 mm) for each 45-degree (0.8 rad) bend, and 5 feet (1,524 mm) for each 90-degree (1.6 rad) bend. The maximum length of the exhaust duct does not include the transition duct.
This means that vents should also be as straight as possible and cannot be longer than 25 feet. Any 90-degree turns in the vent reduce this 25-foot number by 5 feet, since these turns restrict airflow.

A couple of exceptions exist:
  1. The IRC will defer to the manufacturer’s instruction, so if the manufacturer’s recommendation permits a longer exhaust vent, that’s acceptable. An inspector probably won’t have the manufacturer’s recommendations, and even if they do, confirming compliance with them exceeds the scope of a General Home Inspection.
  2. The IRC will allow large radius bends to be installed to reduce restrictions at turns, but confirming compliance requires performing engineering calculation in accordance with the ASHRAE Fundamentals Handbook, which definitely lies beyond the scope of a General Home Inspection!
M1502.2 Duct termination.
Exhaust ducts shall terminate on the outside of the building or shall be in accordance with the dryer manufacturer’s installation instructions. Exhaust ducts shall terminate not less than 3 feet (914 mm) in any direction from openings into buildings. Exhaust duct terminations shall be equipped with a backdraft damper. Screens shall not be installed at the duct termination.
Inspectors will see many dryer vents terminate in crawlspaces or attics where they deposit moisture, which can encourage the growth of mold, wood decay, or other material problems. Sometimes they will terminate just beneath attic ventilators. This is a defective installation. They must terminate at the exterior and away from a door or window! Also, screens may be present at the duct termination and can accumulate lint and should be noted as improper. 
M1502.3 Duct size.
The diameter of the exhaust duct shall be as required by the clothes dryer’s listing and the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
Look for the exhaust duct size on the data plate.
M1502.4 Transition ducts.
Transition ducts shall not be concealed within construction. Flexible transition ducts used to connect the dryer to the exhaust duct system shall be limited to single lengths not to exceed 8 feet (2438 mm), and shall be listed and labeled in accordance with UL 2158A.
In general, an inspector will not know specific manufacturer’s recommendations or local applicable codes and will not be able to confirm the dryer vent's compliance to them, but will be able to point out issues that may need to be corrected.

by Nick Gromicko, Rob London and Kenton Shepard 


From Dryer Vent Safety - Int'l Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) http://www.nachi.org/dryer-vent-safety.htm#ixzz1z6hEFQ7e

Monday, May 21, 2012

Don't let your appliances fool you...Recall Chek is here!

An important part of every Long Island home inspection we conduct, is to ensure that appliances and major mechanical systems are working properly.  One area that home inspectors have been limited with, is knowing the potential of any past recall items on those systems or appliances.  For a home buyer, that could lead to a potential danger situation. Until now.

How's My House Home inspections is pleased to announce that we are now including a free Recall Check on all of our home inspections.  With the help of the company Recall Chek, we will now be able to provide to our clients important data on appliances and mechanical systems.  Recall Chek is the first consumer appliance reporting system ever created. The benefits of this service are great.

How the process works.
During the home inspection, we will record information from appliances and mechanical equipment. We will then send the information to Recall Chek, which will use the up to date database of any and all recall reports. They will check the reported appliances and mechanicals to see if there are any outstanding recalls. If there are any affected units, a report will be issued including the nature of the recall, where the product was sold, and how to remedy the defect including how to get the item repaired or replaced absolutely FREE.  Additionally, your product information will be kept on hand, so if a recall occurs in the future, you will automatically be notified.  Now that's piece of mind! 



This is another service that How's My House Home Inspections includes in all Long Island Home Inspections. Very few home inspectors offer this type of additional service. If you are looking for a home inspector on Long Island, call us today 516-732-7595. Let us tell you how we can help you.
You don't need to have a home inspection to take advantage of the recall chek service. For a small fee, you can conduct your own recall check.  Simply click on the button below to get started.

Monday, April 23, 2012

This home in Oceanside NY may need a new home inspection

The chimney on this Oceanside, NY home is to low
While doing a inspection in Oceanside, NY the other day, we came across a chimney that clearly does not meet the building standards.  As you can see, the chimney is clearly below the roof line, which can be a hazard and dangerous to the homeowners.  You can also see that a window is above the chimney, allowing  the gasses to possibly enter the home.  When they did this extension, they forget to extend this chimney, oops.  If you are looking for a home inspector in Oceanside, NY, we will gladly inspect your home a look for all potential defects.  Call How's My House Home Inspections at 516-732-7595, or go to our website at The Long Island Home Inspector.

Looking for a home inspector in Nassau County?

Looking for a home inspector in Nassau County NY?  How's My House Home Inspections provides affordable and professional home inspections in all towns in Nassau County NY. From Atantic Beach to Wantagh, we will provide you with a thorough home inspection of the home you are looking at.

A Nassau County Home Inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of a dwelling, which is designed to identify observed material defects within specific components of that dwelling.  Our process of inspecting your home involves looking at many components of the home.  A typical sized home will on average take 2 1/2 - 3 hours to complete.  We encourage our clients to walk along with us to learn about their home, as well as to ask questions.  

Our Inspection will look at the exterior of the home including the roof, attic, framing, and overall structure.  In the inside, we will look at the system components, plumbling, electrical, and all wall surfaces and structures. 

We provide a comprehensive inspection report with photos and can be delivered within 24 hours. 

To find out more about a home inspection for your Nassau County home, visit our website, The Long Island Home Inspectoror call us at 516-732-7595.

Friday, April 6, 2012

10 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home

As the price of running your home continues to rise, many home owners are looking for ways to reduce their utility bills.  Here are some easy ways to get started. This article is written by the good folks over at InterNACHI, a leading home inspection trade group.


Most people don’t know how easy it is to make their homes run on less energy, and here at InterNACHI, we want to change that. Drastic reductions in heating, cooling and electricity costs can be accomplished through very simple changes, most of which homeowners can do themselves. Of course, for homeowners who want to take advantage of the most up-to-date knowledge and systems in home energy efficiency, InterNACHI energy auditors can perform in-depth testing to find the best energy solutions for your particular home. 
Why make your home more energy efficient? Here are a few good reasons:
  • Federal, state, utility and local jurisdictions' financial incentives, such as tax breaks, are very advantageous for homeowners in most parts of the U.S.
  • It saves money. It costs less to power a home that has been converted to be more energy-efficient.
  • It increases the comfort level indoors.
  • It reduces our impact on climate change. Many scientists now believe that excessive energy consumption contributes significantly to global warming.
  • It reduces pollution. Conventional power production introduces pollutants that find their way into the air, soil and water supplies.
1. Find better ways to heat and cool your house. 
As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy bills can be reduced through adjustments to the heating and cooling systems:
  • Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be used in place of air conditioners, which require a large amount of energy.
  • Periodically replace air filters in air conditioners and heaters.
  • Set thermostats to an appropriate temperature. Specifically, they should be turned down at night and when no one is home. In most homes, about 2% of the heating bill will be saved for each degree that the thermostat is lowered for at least eight hours each day. Turning down the thermostat from 75° F to 70° F, for example, saves about 10% on heating costs.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat saves money by allowing heating and cooling appliances to be automatically turned down during times that no one is home and at night. Programmable thermostats contain no mercury and, in some climate zones, can save up to $150 per year in energy costs.
  • Install a wood stove or a pellet stove. These are more efficient sources of heat than furnaces.
  • At night, curtains drawn over windows will better insulate the room.
2. Install a tankless water heater.
Demand-type water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot water only as it is needed. They don't produce the standby energy losses associated with traditional storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs. Tankless water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. A gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don't need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water.
3. Replace incandescent lights.
The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), can reduce the energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time that lights are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and LEDs:
  • CFLs use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
  • LEDs last even longer than CFLs and consume less energy.
  • LEDs have no moving parts and, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury.
4. Seal and insulate your home.
Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy-efficient, and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills. An InterNACHI energy auditor can assess  leakage in the building envelope and recommend fixes that will dramatically increase comfort and energy savings.
The following are some common places where leakage may occur:
  • electrical receptacles/outlets;
  • mail slots;
  • around pipes and wires;
  • wall- or window-mounted air conditioners;
  • attic hatches;
  • fireplace dampers;
  • inadequate weatherstripping around doors;
  • baseboards;
  • window frames; and
  • switch plates.
Because hot air rises, air leaks are most likely to occur in the attic. Homeowners can perform a variety of repairs and maintenance to their attics that save them money on cooling and heating, such as: 
  • Plug the large holes. Locations in the attic where leakage is most likely to be the greatest are where walls meet the attic floor, behind and under attic knee walls, and in dropped-ceiling areas.
  • Seal the small holes. You can easily do this by looking for areas where the insulation is darkened. Darkened insulation is a result of dusty interior air being filtered by insulation before leaking through small holes in the building envelope. In cold weather, you may see frosty areas in the insulation caused by warm, moist air condensing and then freezing as it hits the cold attic air. In warmer weather, you’ll find water staining in these same areas. Use expanding foam or caulk to seal the openings around plumbing vent pipes and electrical wires. Cover the areas with insulation after the caulk is dry.
  • Seal up the attic access panel with weatherstripping. You can cut a piece of fiberglass or rigid foamboard insulation in the same size as the attic hatch and glue it to the back of the attic access panel. If you have pull-down attic stairs or an attic door, these should be sealed in a similar manner.
5. Install efficient showerheads and toilets.
The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage in homes:
  • low-flow showerheads. They are available in different flow rates, and some have a pause button which shuts off the water while the bather lathers up;
  • low-flow toilets. Toilets consume 30% to 40% of the total water used in homes, making them the biggest water users. Replacing an older 3.5-gallon toilet with a modern, low-flow 1.6-gallon toilet can reduce usage an average of 2 gallons-per-flush (GPF), saving 12,000 gallons of water per year. Low-flow toilets usually have "1.6 GPF" marked on the bowl behind the seat or inside the tank;
  • vacuum-assist toilets. This type of toilet has a vacuum chamber that uses a siphon action to suck air from the trap beneath the bowl, allowing it to quickly fill with water to clear waste. Vacuum-assist toilets are relatively quiet; and
  • dual-flush toilets. Dual-flush toilets have been used in Europe and Australia for years and are now gaining in popularity in the U.S. Dual-flush toilets let you choose between a 1-gallon (or less) flush for liquid waste, and a 1.6-gallon flush for solid waste. Dual-flush 1.6-GPF toilets reduce water consumption by an additional 30%.
6. Use appliances and electronics responsibly.
Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household energy bills in a typical U.S. home. The following are tips that will reduce the required energy of electronics and appliances:
  • Refrigerators and freezers should not be located near the stove, dishwasher or heat vents, or exposed to direct sunlight. Exposure to warm areas will force them to use more energy to remain cool.  
  • Computers should be shut off when not in use. If unattended computers must be left on, their monitors should be shut off. According to some studies, computers account for approximately 3% of all energy consumption in the United States.
  • Use efficient ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and electronics. These devices, approved by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program, include TVs, home theater systems, DVD players, CD players, receivers, speakers, and more. According to the EPA, if just 10% of homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 1.7 million acres of trees.
  • Chargers, such as those used for laptops and cell phones, consume energy when they are plugged in. When they are not connected to electronics, chargers should be unplugged.
  • Laptop computers consume considerably less electricity than desktop computers.
7. Install daylighting as an alternative to electrical lighting.
Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate the home's interior. It can be achieved using the following approaches:
  • skylights. It’s important that they be double-pane or they may not be cost-effective. Flashing skylights correctly is key to avoiding leaks;
  • light shelves. Light shelves are passive devices designed to bounce light deep into a building. They may be interior or exterior. Light shelves can introduce light into a space up to 2½ times the distance from the floor to the top of the window, and advanced light shelves may introduce four times that amount;
  • clerestory windows.  Clerestory windows are short, wide windows set high on the wall. Protected from the summer sun by the roof overhang, they allow winter sun to shine through for natural lighting and warmth; and 
  • light tubes.  Light tubes use a special lens designed to amplify low-level light and reduce light intensity from the midday sun. Sunlight is channeled through a tube coated with a highly reflective material, and then enters the living space through a diffuser designed to distribute light evenly.
8. Insulate windows and doors.
About one-third of the home's total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy lost through windows and doors:
  • Seal all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. This is the cheapest and simplest option.
  • Windows can be weatherstripped with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. For doors, apply weatherstripping around the whole perimeter to ensure a tight seal when they're closed. Install quality door sweeps on the bottom of the doors, if they aren't already in place.
  • Install storm windows at windows with only single panes. A removable glass frame can be installed over an existing window.
  • If existing windows have rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don't work, they should be repaired or replaced.
9. Cook smart.
An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The following recommendations and statistics illustrate less wasteful ways of cooking:
  • Convection ovens are more efficient that conventional ovens. They use fans to force hot air to circulate more evenly, thereby allowing food to be cooked at a lower temperature. Convection ovens use approximately 20% less electricity than conventional ovens.
  • Microwave ovens consume approximately 80% less energy than conventional ovens.
  • Pans should be placed on the matching size heating element or flame. 
  • Using lids on pots and pans will heat food more quickly than cooking in uncovered pots and pans.
  • Pressure cookers reduce cooking time dramatically.
  • When using conventional ovens, food should be placed on the top rack. The top rack is hotter and will cook food faster. 
10. Change the way you do laundry.
  • Do not use the medium setting on your washer. Wait until you have a full load of clothes, as the medium setting saves less than half of the water and energy used for a full load.
  • Avoid using high-temperature settings when clothes are not very soiled. Water that is 140° F uses far more energy than 103° F for the warm-water setting, but 140° F isn’t that much more effective for getting clothes clean.
  • Clean the lint trap every time before you use the dryer. Not only is excess lint a fire hazard, but it will prolong the amount of time required for your clothes to dry.
  • If possible, air-dry your clothes on lines and racks.
  • Spin-dry or wring clothes out before putting them into a dryer. 
Homeowners who take the initiative to make these changes usually discover that the energy savings are more than worth the effort. InterNACHI home inspectors can make this process much easier because they can perform a more comprehensive assessment of energy-savings potential than the average homeowner can.  
 


From 10 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home - InterNACHI http://www.nachi.org/increasing-home-energy-efficiency-client.htm#ixzz1rGzQOk2a

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pests around the house...time to get rid of them.

Many homes that we inspect all have the same problem, and its doesn't involve the home directly.  It begins on the outside, and they can be a nuisance.  Pests.  Wood destroying insects and other pests around the house can be troubling, but they can be controlled.  New pest management invoke the use of  applying less pesticides.  Integrated pest management combines the use of common sense, proven techniques, conventional pesticides, and green alternatives.

IPM stresses prevention. To prevent infestation, deny the pests food, water, and access to the home. However, prevention may not be enough, and treatment may have to occur. When using pesticides, the exterminator should choose the least toxic product possible, apply as little as possible, and treat the smallest area possible.

To find out more about eliminating pests read here

As always, if you are in need of a home inspections, give How's My House Home Inspections a call.  All our inspections involve inspecting for WDI. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Do you have a wet basement?

There is nothing worse than walking down to basement to find water at the bottom of the steps.  That may be a bit severe, but as a home inspector, we find signs of water intrusion quite often. Whether its a complete flooding, or just a pooling of water, the damage can be enormous.

If your buying a home, you probably would like to know if there is a current water problem in the basement, and if there has been a past problem. If you walk into the basement and see any water, well that's a dead giveaway that there is a problem. But what are the other signs to help determine if there is a water problem.
Some things to look for:

Musty odor - If the basement has an ongoing water problem the odor will stay around for some time.

Efflorescence -When water soaks into concrete, it leaches out the salt and mineral deposits within the concrete. The dry, white, chalky residue left behind is known as efflorescence. It can usually be seen on the basement walls. It is one of the best indicators of a wet basement, since the efflorescence can pinpoint where the water is entering the basement.

Spalling - Water in a concrete wall can cause the concrete to flake away, creating a hole or pocket in the wall.

Mold - Mold can lie dormant for a long time and all it takes is a bit of water to bring it to life.  Mold can be a major headache, not to mention a health risk.

Sump Hole - If a basement has a sump pump, that's a pretty good indication that there is water infiltration to the basement. The buyer should find out how often the pump runs. 

Horizontal Cracks - Poor drainage and grading of soil around a structure can cause water to drain slowly. This water will saturate the ground around the foundation walls, causing an increase in hydrostatic (water) pressure. As the combined forces of hydrostatic pressure and the natural weight of the soils surrounding the foundation bear down, it can exceed the weight-bearing capacity of the walls, causing them to crack, bow, or shear.

Regardless of what the cause is, water in the basement usually leads to larger and more complicated issues.  Always ensure that the basement is dry, or find out why not.  This can help determine whether you should buy the home or not.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Everything is negotiable with sellers

You found the house to buy, put the house is escrow, and had a home inspection.  What do you do when the inspection report come back with problems, maybe serious issues that can effect the deal.  The answer may be as simple as...Negotiate with the seller.

There is a caveat of course.  Many times in a inspection report, there are finding throughout the home with systems, such as the roof, water heater, or maybe the boiler, that are older and may be coming to the end of its useful life.  In fact, many items will have to be replaced eventually. The problem with that is, the system is still working, and may continue working for some time before it fails.  So what do you do? Have the seller replace them, or ask for money off the sale price.  This should not kill the deal in many cases.

There are a few ways to negotiate items that may be of concern to you in the inspection report.
The first is to request the seller to fix it. Depending on the severity of the issue, the seller may have to fix the issue.  If you don't buy the house for this reason, chances are that the next buyers inspector will see the same thing and the issue will be found.  Without being fixed, the house may never get sold.  This all depends on the motivation of the seller, and how bad they want the home sold.

The second is to place money in escrow to fix the defect once the transaction is complete. This will require getting an estimate of the repair and using the escrow money to repair.  One problem here is that once the repair begins, it may turn out to be a larger problem, and the escrow money may not be enough.

The third way is to split the cost. Many sellers may not want to pay for any costs, especially if they are selling the house "as-is", but again, it may be the only way to move the house. Again, this comes down to seller motivation, and if the buyer really want the particular house. 

The great thing about real estate, is that almost everything is negotiable.  If you don't ask, you will never know.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Home Inspection Process Explained

If you are buying or selling a home, a home inspection, in our minds is mandatory.  The task of getting a home inspector and wondering what will be involved can be overwhelming.  To help understand the process, take a look a this video.  It should clear up many questions.


If your looking for a home inspection to be done on Long Island, Nassau, Sufflok, Brooklyn or Queens, give us a call. 516-732-7595

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Smart ways to save energy this winter

As I walked out my door the other day I was blasted by the first real winter chill.  Then I opened my utility bill. Not really happy about either one.  Although you can't control the weather, you can control your utility bill...to some degree( no pun intended).  Here are some smart ways to reduce your energy usage throughout the year.

Find better ways to heat and cool your house. 
As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy bills can be reduced through adjustments to the heating and cooling systems:
  • Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be used in place of air conditioners, which require a large amount of energy.
  • Periodically replace air filters in air conditioners and heaters.
  • Set thermostats to an appropriate temperature. Specifically, they should be turned down at night and when no one is home. In most homes, about 2% of the heating bill will be saved for each degree that the thermostat is lowered for at least eight hours each day. Turning down the thermostat from 75° F to 70° F, for example, saves about 10% on heating costs.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat saves money by allowing heating and cooling appliances to be automatically turned down during times that no one is home and at night. Programmable thermostats contain no mercury and, in some climate zones, can save up to $150 per year in energy costs.
  • Install a wood stove or a pellet stove. These are more efficient sources of heat than furnaces.
  • At night, curtains drawn over windows will better insulate the room.
Install a tankless water heater.
Demand-type water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot water only as it is needed. They don't produce the standby energy losses associated with traditional storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs. Tankless water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. A gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don't need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water.

Replace incandescent lights.
The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), can reduce the energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time that lights are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and LEDs:
  • CFLs use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
  • LEDs last even longer than CFLs and consume less energy.
  • LEDs have no moving parts and, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury.
Seal and insulate your home.
Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy-efficient, and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills. An InterNACHI energy auditor can assess  leakage in the building envelope and recommend fixes that will dramatically increase comfort and energy savings.
The following are some common places where leakage may occur:
  • electrical receptacles/outlets;
  • mail slots;
  • around pipes and wires;
  • wall- or window-mounted air conditioners;
  • attic hatches;
  • fireplace dampers;
  • inadequate weatherstripping around doors;
  • baseboards;
  • window frames; and
  • switch plates.
Insulate windows and doors.
About one-third of the home's total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy lost through windows and doors:
  • Seal all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. This is the cheapest and simplest option.
  • Windows can be weatherstripped with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. For doors, apply weatherstripping around the whole perimeter to ensure a tight seal when they're closed. Install quality door sweeps on the bottom of the doors, if they aren't already in place.
  • Install storm windows at windows with only single panes. A removable glass frame can be installed over an existing window.
  • If existing windows have rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don't work, they should be repaired or replaced.
Theses are only a few ways to help reduce the amount of energy used.  Not only will it help save you money, but will help the environment as well. Homeowners who take the initiative to make these changes usually discover that the energy savings are more than worth the effort. This list is courtesy if InterNACHI.