With leaves beginning to change colors and geese flocking south, Autumn is definitely on its way in. Fall is a great time to focus on preparing your house for the harsh cold of Winter. While maintenance for your home is an ongoing chore, our home inspector has some tips on what things you should focus on during the Fall season. Please consider making this list a part of your yearly maintenance schedule every Fall.
Wooden fences are a great touch to almost every home. They can provide security and privacy for your family, while still allowing for an attractive look. Wooden fences can be installed as a tall privacy fence or shorter picket fence, whichever is your preference. Fences using untreated lumber are usually expected to last about 7-12 years if maintained properly, while fences using pressure treated lumber have a life expectancy of about 30 years.
Fences must be properly installed. If you are unsure of how to install a fence yourself you should contact a professional for assistance. To avoid warping, make sure that your lumber has been adequately dried prior to installation. Posts are exposed to high levels of moisture from damp soil making them prone to rotting out quickly. It is recommended that a naturally moisture-resistant hardwood (such as Cedar) or pressure-treated lumber be used for posts to extend your fence's life. Posts are recommended to be installed at least 2-3 feet deep. Avoid galvanized nails if you live close to the ocean or any body of salt water. Adding a stain or paint finish will help to protect your fence's above ground structures.
Once your fence has been installed it is important to maintain the integrity of your fence. Organic growth, such as vines, should be removed to prevent damage to the wood and avoid any wood-damaging insects. Pressure washing your fence occassionally can become part of your maintenance routine. Take care to not pressure wash using more than 1,000 PSI from about 6-10 inches away. Make sure that your yard is free from standing water or drainage issues near your fence's posts to minimize risks of rotting. Keep any sprinkler systems aimed to avoid wetting the fence. If you notice any signs of defects, take the proper measures to address them quickly. Contact a professional if you are unsure of repairs.
Water damage can wreck havoc on a house bringing rot and mold with it. Bathrooms are a common place for water damage to be found. It is imperative to the health of your home and your family's health to minimize moisture; any leaking valves or plumbing issues should be addressed quickly.
Eliminate any signs of mold before they affect your family's health. Mold is attracted to moisture, by keeping your bathroom as dry as possible you keep mold spores from becoming attached. Wash towels, rugs, and fabric curtains often. Avoid using wallpaper in your bathroom as moisture can get stuck behind it allowing for mold growth to be hidden in the wall.
Leaking valves are a common cause of water damage in bathrooms. Leaking valves can cause rust and corrosion in your sinks, toilets, and showers. Make sure you know where all of your shut-off valves are in case of leaking or emergencies, including your main shut-off valve. In your bathroom there should be a shut-off valve behind each toilet.
Water damaged bathrooms are a common issue found within foreclosed or abandoned houses. Houses that have been left with water running for long periods of time while not being used or maintained run the risk of water damage running rampant. Repair costs for water damaged bathrooms can be very expensive.
Here are some tips to help maintain the health of your bathroom:
The key to maintaining your bathroom is keeping all surfaces as dry as possible. Always contact a professional if you are unsure of completing any repairs yourself.
You may have come across a house that is missing handrails from the stairs either on the interior or exterior. Frequently, handrails are usually found missing from porches and decks. Are handrails considered necessary for every set of stairs?
According to the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC), interior or exterior staircases with 3 or more risers must have a handrail on at least one side. Handrails should not exceed a height of 38 inches or below 34 inches. Handrails should not project further than 4.5 inches on either side of the stairway.
It is important that the handrail is continuous through the entire flight. A handrail that consists of 2 or more pieces presents a risk that the handrail will fail causing damages or injuries. Remember to check your handrails regularly for any signs of defects such as looseness, rust, or rot. Be sure to also inspect the spindles for any defects. If you are unsure of how to manage the repairs, be sure to contact a professional.
You may have found yourself wondering if gutters on a home are really necessary and what exactly are they protecting? The truth is gutters can be crucial to protecting your home and extending its health.
Properly installed and working gutters are important in protecting your home from the following:
Gutters do take some work to maintain. Homeowners should always check to verify that their gutters are properly draining. Improper maintenance to your gutters can cause the following:
Ivy crawling up the side of a house can create a very quaint and romantic look, but is it healthy for your home? While Ivy may not always cause issues to your home, it is always recommended to avoid it altogether.
Research completed by the Oxford University has found that ivy can act as a thermal barrier for your home and that it is not usually considered strong enough to cause any cracks in your home's exterior brick or wood. However, that doesn't make homes overtaken by ivy are cleared for any potential defects.
Ivy growth that has found its way into existing cracks or holes will create damage to your home. Ivy growth can become quite heavy and will put pressure on any weakened structures such as gutters or fences. Ivy growth on wood surfaces, including fences, can seep into the cracks of the wood grain and cause rot. It can also harbor many pests, including insects known to destroy wood.
Removing Ivy is normally quite easy by simply plucking the plant from your home's surface. Take care when pulling Ivy off your home to not damage your home further by accidentally pulling off attached siding, stucco, or paint.
English Ivy is considered the most invasive species and is banned in some communities. Ivy growth is known to have even caused choking and damage to trees. It is recommended to remove Ivy growth before it reaches the tree's canopy.
You may be wondering what could be problematic within your newly built home? Why should you hire a home inspector for a brand new home that nobody has ever lived in before? While there are many great building companies out there, mistakes may still happen. This could be the result of miscommunication between contractors, negligence, or improper training.
We recommend having a home inspection performed promptly after construction has completed on your new home. This will allow you to bring up any defects that are found to the builders or contractors for possible resolution. If your developer refuses to correct major issues than you may want to consider taking further legal action.
Facade Leaks, Window Leaks, Flooring Issues, and Ventilation/Exhaust Issues are among the most common problems found within newly constructed houses.
Recently Peninsula Housing Service's own Licensed Home Inspector found this vent pipe had been left open in the attic. The contractors for this new house had forgotten to extend the pipe up through the roof of the home. This would have caused all of the septic gases to vent into the attic which would have resulted in some very stinky problems for the new homeowners. After completion of the home inspection report the developers did promptly correct this issue for the new homeowners.
Another common mistake found within newly constructed homes can include improper receptacles placed near water sources or outside. It is recommended that GFCI receptacles be placed near all sinks, bathtubs, and outside outlets. GFCI receptacles are designed to trip when moisture comes into contact with the outlet to prevent electrical shocks.
Failure to attach extensions to the relief valve on water heaters is also a common mistake found within newly constructed houses. The Relief Valve (or TPR Valve) is placed near the top side of the unit. When properly working, this valve is set to open if either the temperature reaches 210°F or if the pressure reaches 150 psi. This is a safety mechanism to avoid the water heater from exploding during a system failure. This valve should have an extension that reaches to just above the floor, preventing discharged water from splashing.
Each state's laws differ for the regulations and licensing for Home Inspectors. In Virginia, Licensed Home Inspectors must complete additional training to become certified to inspect New Residential Structures. Feel free to check InterNACHI for a list of home inspection requirements by state to ensure that your home inspector is properly qualified.
Moss blanketing a roof can make your house look like it came straight out of a fairy tale, but this serene scene can cause issues to the outside of your home.
Moss is known for readily blanketing across roofs in wet climates. This blanket of moss can be several inches thick. Spores collect in the space between shingles and moisture becomes trapped in the moss like a sponge which causes mold and decay. Decay to the roofs support structure can occur in severe cases.
Maintain your roof's health by keeping up with cleaning the roof from moss or any other organic growth. By adding zinc or copper flashing to your roof the rundown of metal can help dissolve moss growth. Zinc strips and chemical treatments will also help deter moss growth on your roof. Clear out any overhanging branches that may prevent sunlight from reaching your roof; moss thrives in damp, shady places.
If your roof presently has a thick layer of moss, make sure to take care when removing the growth. While it is imperative to remove moss from your roof to prevent moisture damage, it is possible to damage your roof further in the process.
Power washing your roof is not recommended as this can cause damage to the shingles, especially asphalt shingles.
Heavy moss can be physically removed by using a long handled scrubbing brush from the top of the roof to the bottom with care to not lift or damage the shingles. You may also use a diluted bleach mixture or one of several available chemical treatments to kill of any moss growth. Please be aware that these treatments will create runoff into any gardens or groundwater sources beneath it.
Peninsula Housing Services
Striving to educate others through our experiences with home inspections, remodeling, renovations, and flipping homes.