Do you know what this water heater in the garage is missing? A safety post (bollard). The bollard protects the water heater from vehicular damage (should a car lurch toward it) and prevents the water tank from rupturing. Can you imagine what would happen if 40+ gallons of very hot water suddenly came rushing out all over your garage, dry wall, vehicle, personal belongings, and possibly even you? Not to mention the electric or gas powered heating element inside the water heater that needs to stay submerged or it can become a very dangerous fire hazard. The best way to prevent this is to make sure that a safety bollard is installed - and of course, routing maintenance of the water heater is also key because older units can also rupture on their own if not property maintained.
What an attentive audience! I had fun presenting to the residents of Fearrington Village who are considering selling their homes. They asked great questions about what a home inspector does, what to expect on reports, and how to make quick and easy fixes to your home before listing. For example, making sure your light bulbs work (inside AND outside), clearing your gutters and extending your downspouts 3-6 feet away from your home, trimming back all tree branches and shrubs so that nothing touches your home, and having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each level are smart and simple ways to prepare! For additional tips and to schedule a pre-listing or home maintenance inspection, give us a call!
Did you hear about the actress Anna Faris and her 12 family members who nearly died over Thanksgiving because of carbon monoxide poisoning? The vacation home they were renting had NO detectors. The furnace was leaking carbon monoxide into the home at over five times the recommended level. The safety feature of having working carbon monoxide detectors is absolutely one of things that gets called out in our reports and it is also one of the cheapest and easiest fixes. PLEASE check your home to make sure there is a working carbon monoxide AND smoke detector on each floor. We want you and your family to be safe and healthy to experience the joy of another holiday season and ring in the New Year!
Any guesses? If you were to say "FIRE HAZARD" you would be correct! This is a dryer vent that exits outside of the home and it obviously has not been cleaned in a while. Old lint, dirt, leaves, and other debris have built up over time, slowly blocking the vent and preventing moisture, heat, and lint from escaping when the dryer is operated. Wonder why your clothes take forever to dry? A clogged vent can dramatically impact the efficiency of your dryer. And of course, when lint builds up and you add the heat of the dryer, the risk of a fire sharply increases as well. We've highlighted this issue before because it is so simple to fix yet so damaging if not addressed - so go check your dryer vent! And then call us at 919-914-0606 for a whole home maintenance or pre-listing inspection and we'll make sure you don't have any other safety issues like this!
What's wrong with this picture?
If you said the chimney is missing a chimney cap, you're right! Such a simple, inexpensive fix. However, if this is left like this, you could be facing one or more of the following issues:
1. Chimney caps keep out birds, BATS, squirrels, and other small rodents. If something crawls into your chimney but gets stuck and can't get out (which happens a lot), not only is that awful for the animal, but you will also be dealing with a dead critter, bad smells, and even bugs (maggots, etc.). Yuck.
2. SAFETY ISSUE - wood burning fireplaces sometimes emit large burning embers that float up the chimney and without a cap, can land on your roof or something equally flammable.
3. Chimney caps help reduce water/moisture that can damage your chimney liner and other components and can also lead to mold.
4. A correctly placed cap can help block downdrafts and excessive wind (especially during hurricanes and other serious weather events) from channeling down your chimney and blowing smoke and/or soot into your living space. Caps also prevent debris like leaves and small branches/twigs from getting inside your chimney.
So what does all of this mean? If you're buying a house, make sure it has a chimney cap! If you own a house with a chimney, go take a look and make sure you have one and that it is securely placed. If you can't tell, then it's time for a roof inspection.
IF YOUR HOME WAS BUILT IN THE 1960s-80s, CHECK TO SEE IF YOUR HOME HAS THIS ELECTRICAL PANEL: Federal Pacific(FPE)/STAB-Lok electrical panels are panels that have been the subject of UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and consumer concerns related to inadequate safety protection. Consistent evidence has been presented that STAB-LOK breakers have a tendency to become loose and experience failure of unit circuit protection. The breakers often do not trip in the event of an emergency leaving the circuit unprotected - this is a SIGNIFICANT FIRE HAZARD. In addition, this particular home that I recently inspected had frayed rag insulation (see red circle), adding another safety hazard to this situation. Click this link for further information about these panels and the dangers they pose: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/despite-previous-safety-concerns-this-circuit-breaker-is-still-in-homes/2018/05/08/8927af86-4ef9-11e8-b725-92c89fe3ca4c_story.html?utm_term=.5e452ed7097f
Did you know that you should clean your dryer exhaust vent at least once a year (and even more often in larger households)? Nearly 15,000 fires a year are caused by dryer-related fires so this safety maintenance is VERY important. You can hire a professional or you can purchase a kit at a hardware store and do it yourself. In this video, the lint is being blown from inside out as well as using the lint brush connected to a power drill. A clean vent is not only far safer but will also save you time and money as your clothes will dry faster. Win win!
We've got you covered, even if your prospective home's outlets aren't. Missing outlet covers are easy to miss when they are hidden behind furniture and other household items. Without these covers, electrical wires can be exposed presenting hazardous conditions especially to children and pets. Outlet covers are designed to protect you from electrical shock and fire hazards and are something we look for at each home inspection. It is shocking (pun intended) how many homes we see with this easily-fixed issue. We'll put it in your inspection report to alert you of this commonly occurring safety issue.
Summertime grilling is always fun but if you have vinyl siding, those steaks and burgers need to be cooked to perfection at least 10 FEET from your siding. Heat damage to vinyl siding caused by grills is something we see A LOT during home inspections. And the scary part is that the damaged siding is minor compared to the real danger - burning down the house. Thousands of home fires are started every year because grills are too close to vinyl siding. Please stay safe and happy grilling!
From Rick & Lori:
Yes, we've joined the 21st Century and started a (mini) blog! Check here for great updates and tips about your current or prospective home.