Thursday, November 12, 2015

Decks, Family, and Food...

The cool air is creeping in, and when it does I slowly begin to migrate outside to grill dinner for my family on the deck in the early evening. While this is often a summertime event for many people, I find Fall to be my favorite time of year for such primitive acts.

Decks are a great place to relax and take in the day, a cup of morning coffee, or celebrate with family and friends. While decks can be a source of fun, they can also create hazards. Here are a few considerations about decks which can also be found here:

  1. More decks collapse in the summer than during the rest of the year. 
  2. There is a slight correlation between deck failure and the age of the deck. 
  3. About 90% of deck collapses occurred as a result of the separation of the house and the deck ledger board, allowing the deck to swing away from the house. It is very rare for deck floor joists to break mid-span. 
  4. Many more injuries are the result of rail failure, rather than complete deck collapse. 
  5. Deck stairs are notorious for lacking graspable handrails. 
  6. Many do-it-yourself homeowners, and even contractors, don't believe that rail infill spacing codes apply to decks.

So while your enjoying your deck, remember to maintain it. Check for loose fasteners, nails or screws which protrude, loose boards, loose or missing handrails. Check the guardrails and especially the spacing between the spindles/balusters. Decks are always inspected by your local Tallahassee Blue Bear Home Inspector at no extra charge. So, stay safe this season and enjoy your deck, family, and food.

Thomas Ailstock, CPI - FL# HI9155
Blue Bear Home Inspection, LLC

Dedicated to providing the Best Service Possible

Monday, November 9, 2015

That's a Good Home - Here's a Cookie!

This Tea Olive tree was damaging the soffit, and shingles.

Rainy days

It has been raining in Tallahassee for a solid two days.

Last night, a good friend sent my wife pictures of her AC condenser unit outside of her home doing its best to survive the flash flooding....if it were a person, the water would have been up to its knees - poor thing.

Here's a Cookie!

The constant rain is a reminder of how good our homes are to us. While it has been raining non-stop, our homes and their many components have been doing a heck of a job - we have stayed dry inside. It is easy to forget the hard work our homes are doing - day and night - 24/7 - with no breaks.

So, do something nice for your home soon; change the air filters, clean the gutters and downspouts, clear the vegetation away from the siding, seal the windows (with the good sealant). Your home will reward you for it.

And if you are in the market for a new home to protect YOU, contact your local Blue Bear Home Inspector and have it inspected to ensure it is up for the job!

Thomas Ailstock, CPI - FL# HI9155
Blue Bear Home Inspection, LLC

Dedicated to providing the Best Service Possible

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Monsters in the attic...

Okay, so maybe there is no such thing as monsters - but there may still be scary things going on in your attic. The attic space is an important feature of your home and serves more purposes than merely a place to store decorations.

The attic space serves to ventilate the roof structure. Many homes in our region of North Florida use a soffit and ridge vent combination to ventilate the structure. This is a great and efficient system which uses naturally occurring temperature and pressure differentials to passively move air. The stale air in the attic is warmer than the air outside, warm air rises through the ridge vents at the top of the roof, and new cooler and fresh air is pulled into the space. This occurs on its own and helps to cool the roofing material.

So what about the monsters?

There can be scary little things in attics. Typically in the form of air and water leaks. I routinely find HVAC leaks in attics. My least favorite monster are the bathroom and kitchen ventilation systems. These guys are supposed to move moist air out of the home's interior, through the attic space, and outside of the building envelope. Unfortunately this is not always happening.

The picture to the right shows a bathroom vent that was disconnected. Unknowingly, when the homeowner turned on the fan, the warm wet air went straight into the attic. Water in the attic is never a good thing. Warm and wet wood breeds another type of monster - mold.

The good news is that Tallahassee has a dedicated home inspector that climbs into the attics and looks for these creepy crawly monsters which could be living in your home. If they are in there - I will do my very best to find them.

Thomas Ailstock, CPI - FL# HI9155
Blue Bear Home Inspection, LLC

Dedicated to providing the Best Service Possible

Monday, November 2, 2015

Water: A Home's Greatest Enemy

Water does terrible things to a home if not controlled. From roof covering material, slope, gutters, drains, and ground slope, the design and functionality of many of your home's components has one main objective - shed water.

Often it is the little things that do minor amounts of damage overtime which cause the greatest damage over the long haul. These are usually chronic issues which can be mitigated, with a little know-how (and probably a ladder too). The best offense is a good defense! Here are a couple  concerns to keep a keen eye out for:

Leaves on the roof:

Big problem when they are captured in a valley. Leaves hold moisture and prevent the roofing material from drying well. Remember - moisture (water) is the enemy.

Poor roof drainage: 

Next time it rains (and is not lightning), go outside and take a look at where the water is going? Do the downspouts shed the water away from the home? Does the flower bed next to the home hold water? Where is the water going? The water should move away from the home!

There are many other areas to observe such as the roofing material, flashing, crickets, chase covers, chimneys, attic, and crawlspaces. These areas and others are better suited for your local Blue Bear Home Inspector to inspect on your behalf. Remember, water is good for you, good for the fish, and good for the plants - but it is a home's greatest enemy.

Thomas Ailstock, CPI - FL# HI9155
Blue Bear Home Inspection, LLC

Dedicated to providing the Best Service Possible

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Peace of Mind...

The EPA set an action level of 4 pCi/L for indoor radon. The EPA recommends that if radon is found above 4 pCi/L, those levels should be mitigated. 

There is still some risk at a level below 4 pCi/L, and the EPA suggests that people may want to mitigate their homes to get them as close to the ambient outdoor level as possible. Outdoor air has an average of approximately 0.4 pCi/L.

As part of your Tallahassee Home Inspection, or home check-up, ask your inspector about radon. Enjoy the peace of mind of knowing your indoor air levels are not at or above EPA action levels.

Radon can enter a home through water, diffusion, or sub-surface gas through the building envelope. Contact Blue Bear Home Inspection prior to scheduling your inspection to prepare your home for testing. The test is non- invasive and takes ~ 2-7 days to complete.

Thomas Ailstock, CPI - FL# HI9155
Blue Bear Home Inspection, LLC

Dedicated to providing the Best Service Possible

Radon Measurement

If your buying a home in Tallahassee...

The EPA recommends that you know what the indoor radon level is in any home you are considering buying. Ask the seller for their radon test results. If the home has a radon-reduction system, ask the seller for information they have about the system. If the home has not yet been tested, you should have the house tested by a certified home inspector.

If you are having a new home built, there are features that can be incorporated into your home during construction to reduce radon levels.

These radon testing guidelines have been developed specifically to deal with the time-sensitive nature of home purchases and sales, and the potential for radon device interference. These guidelines are slightly different from the guidelines in other EPA publications which provide radon testing and reduction information for non-real estate situations.

This guide recommends three short-term testing options for real estate transactions. The EPA also recommends testing a home in the lowest level which is currently suitable for occupancy, since a buyer may choose to live in a lower area of the home than that used by the seller.

Call a Blue Bear Home Inspector and ask about measuring the radon levels in your new or existing home.

Thomas Ailstock, CPI - FL# HI9155
Blue Bear Home Inspection, LLC

Dedicated to providing the Best Service Possible