Category Archives: Home Maintenance

Attic Pull Down Ladders

Attic Pull Down LadderAttic Pull-Down Ladders

by Nick Gromicko
Attic pull-down ladders, also called attic pull-down stairways, are collapsible ladders that are permanently attached to the attic floor. Occupants can use these ladders to access their attics without being required to carry a portable ladder.
 
Common Defects
 

Homeowners, not professional carpenters, usually install attic pull-down ladders. Evidence of this distinction can be observed in consistently shoddy and dangerous work that rarely meets safety standards. Some of the more common defective conditions observed by inspectors include:

  • cut bottom cord of structural truss. Often, homeowners will cut through a structural member in the field while installing a pull-down ladder, unknowingly weakening the structure. Structural members should not be modified in the field without an engineer’s approval;
  • fastened with improper nails or screws. Homeowners often use drywall or deck screws rather than the standard 16d penny nails or ¼” x 3” lag screws. Nails and screws that are intended for other purposes may have reduced shear strength and they may not support pull-down ladders;
  • fastened with an insufficient number of nails or screws. Manufacturers provide a certain number of nails with instructions that they all be used, and they probably do this for a good reason. Inspectors should be wary of “place nail here” notices that are nowhere near any nails;
  • lack of insulation. Hatches in many houses (especially older ones) are not likely to be weather-stripped and/or insulated. An uninsulated attic hatch allows air from the attic to flow freely into the home, which may cause the heating or cooling system to run overtime. An attic hatch cover box can be installed to increase energy savings;
  • loose mounting bolts. This condition is more often caused by age rather than installation, although improper installation will hasten the loosening process;
  • attic pull-down ladders are cut too short. Stairs should reach the floor;
  • attic pull-down ladders are cut too long. This causes pressure at the folding hinge, which can cause breakage;
  • improper or missing fasteners;
  • compromised fire barrier when installed in the garage;
  • attic ladder frame is not properly secured to the ceiling opening;
  • closed ladder is covered with debris, such as blown insulation or roofing material shed during roof work. Inspectors can place a sheet on the floor beneath the ladder to catch whatever debris may fall onto the floor; and
  • cracked steps. This defect is a problem with wooden ladders.
  • In sliding pull-down ladders, there is a potential for the ladder to slide down quickly without notice. Always pull the ladder down slowly and cautiously.

Safety tip for inspectors: Place an “InterNACHI Inspector at work!” stop sign nearby while mounting the ladder.

Relevant Codes The 2009 edition of the International Building Code (IBC) and the 2006 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC) offer guidelines regarding attic access, although not specifically pull-down ladders. Still, the information might be of some interest to inspectors.

2009 IBC (Commercial Construction): 1209.2 Attic Spaces. An opening not less than 20 inches by 30 inches (559 mm by 762 mm) shall be provided to any attic area having a clear height of over 30 inches (762 mm). A 30-inch (762 mm) minimum clear headroom in the attic space shall be provided at or above the access opening. 2006 IRC (Residential Construction): R807.1 Attic Access. Buildings with combustible ceiling or roof construction shall have an attic access opening to attic areas that exceed 30 square feet (2.8m squared) and have a vertical height of 30 inches (762 mm) or more. The rough-framed opening shall not be less than 22 inches by 30 inches, and shall be located in a hallway or readily accessible location. A 30-inch (762 mm) minimum unobstructed headroom in the attic space shall be provided at some point above the access opening.

Tips that inspectors can pass on to their clients:

  • Do not allow children to enter the attic through an attic access. The lanyard attached to the attic stairs should be short enough that children cannot reach it. Parents can also lock the attic ladder so that a key or combination is required to access it.
  • If possible, avoid carrying large loads into the attic. While properly installed stairways may safely support an adult man, they might fail if he is carrying, for instance, a bag full of bowling balls. Such trips can be split up to reduce the weight load.
  • Replace an old, rickety wooden ladder with a new one. Newer aluminum models are often lightweight, sturdy and easy to install.

In summary, attic pull-down ladders are prone to a number of defects, most of which are due to improper installation.

From Attic Pull-Down Ladders – InterNACHI http://www.nachi.org/attic-ladders.htm#ixzz2qsawi6Xo

Central Air-Conditioning System Inspection

Central Air-Conditioning System  Inspection

by Nick Gromicko
A building’s central air-conditioning system must be periodically inspected  and maintained in order to function properly. While an annual inspection  performed by a trained professional is recommended, homeowners can do a lot of  the work themselves by following the tips offered in this guide.Exterior Condenser Unit
Clean the Exterior Condenser Unit and Components
The exterior condenser unit is the large box located on the side of the  building that is designed to push heat from the inside of the building to the  outdoors. Inside of the box are coils of pipe that are surrounded by thousands  of thin metal “fins” that allow the coils more surface area to exchange heat.  Follow these tips when cleaning the exterior condenser unit and its inner  components — after turning off power to the unit!
  • Remove any leaves, spider webs and other debris from the unit’s  exterior. Trim foliage back several feet from the unit to ensure proper air  flow.
  • Remove the cover grille to clean any debris from the unit’s interior. A  garden hose can be helpful for this task.
  • Straighten any bent fins with a tool called a fin comb.
  • Add lubricating oil to the motor. Check your owner’s manual for specific  instructions.
  • Clean the evaporator coil and condenser coil at least once a  year.  When they collect dirt, they may not function properly.
Inspect the Condensate Drain Line
Condensate drain lines collect condensed water and drain it away from the  unit.  They are located on the side of the inside fan unit. Sometimes there  are two drain lines—a primary drain line that’s built into the unit, and a  secondary drain line that can drain if the first line becomes blocked.  Homeowners can inspect the drain line by using the following tips, which take  very little time and require no specialized tools:
  • Inspect the drain line for obstructions, such as algae and debris. If  the line becomes blocked, water will back up into the drain pan and overflow,  potentially causing a safety hazard or water damage to your home.
  • Make sure the hoses are secured and fit properly.
Clean the Air Filter
The air filter slides out for easy replacement
Air filters remove pollen, dust and other particles that would otherwise  circulate indoors. Most filters are typically rectangular in shape and  about 20 inches by 16 inches, and about 1 inch thick. They slide into the main  ductwork near the inside fan unit. The filter should be periodically washed or  replaced, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. A dirty air filter will  not only degrade indoor air quality, but it will also strain the motor to work  harder to move air through it, increasing energy costs and reducing energy  efficiency. The filter should be replaced monthly during heavy use  during the cooling seasons. You may need to change the filter more often if  the air conditioner is in constant use, if building occupants have respiratory  problems,if  you have pets with fur, or if dusty conditions are  present.
 
Cover the Exterior Unit

When the cooling season is over, you should cover the exterior condenser unit  in preparation for winter. If it isn’t being used, why expose it to the  elements? This measure will prevent ice, leaves and dirt from entering the unit,  which can harm components and require additional maintenance in the spring. A  cover can be purchased, or you can make one yourself by taping together plastic  trash bags. Be sure to turn the unit off before covering it.

Close the Air-Distribution Registers
Air-distribution registers are duct openings in ceilings, walls and floors  where cold air enters the room. They should be closed after the cooling season  ends in order to keep warm air from back-flowing out of the room during the  warming season. Pests and dust will also be unable to enter the ducts during the  winter if the registers are closed. These vents typically can be opened or  closed with an adjacent lever or wheel.  Remember to open the registers in  the spring before the cooling season starts.  Also, make sure they are not  blocked by drapes, carpeting or furniture.
In addition, homeowners should practice the following strategies in order  to keep their central air conditioning systems running properly:
  • Have the air-conditioning system inspected by a professional each year  before the start of the cooling season.
  • Reduce stress on the air conditioning system by enhancing your home’s energy  efficiency. Switch from incandescent lights to compact fluorescents, for  instance, which produce less heat.
In summary, any homeowner can perform periodic inspections and maintenance  to their home’s central air-conditioning system.

From  Central Air-Conditioning System Inspection – InterNACHI http://www.nachi.org/central-air-conditioning-system-inspection.htm#ixzz2eVU4WeKc

Three Deadly Mistakes Every Home Buyer Should Avoid

Three Deadly Mistakes Every Home Buyer Should Avoid

Deadly Mistake #1: Thinking you can’t afford it.   Many people who thought that buying the home they wanted was simply out of their reach are now enjoying a new lifestyle in their very own homes.    Buying a home is the smartest financial decision you will ever make.  In fact, most homeowners would be broke at retirement if it wasn’t for one saving grace — the equity in their homes.  Furthermore, tax allowances favor home ownership.
Real estate values have always risen steadily.  Of course, there are peaks and valleys, but the long-term trend is a consistent increase.  This means that every month when you make a mortgage payment, the amount that you owe on the home goes down and the value typically increases.  This “owe less, worth more” situation is called equity build-up and is the reason you can’t afford not to buy.   Even if you have little money for a down payment or credit problems, chances are that you can still buy that new home.  It just comes down to knowing the right strategies, and working with the right people.  See below.

Deadly Mistake #2: Not hiring a buyer’s agent to represent you.   Buying property is a complex and stressful task.  In fact, it is often the biggest, single investment you will make in your lifetime.  At the same time, real estate transactions have become increasingly complicated.  New technology, laws, procedures, and competition from other buyers require buyer agents to perform at an ever-increasing level of competence and professionalism.  In addition, making the wrong decisions can end up costing you thousands of dollars.  It doesn’t have to be this way!   Work with a buyer’s agent who has a keen understanding of the real estate business and the local market.  A buyer’s agent has a fiduciary duty to you.  That means that he or she is loyal only to you and is obligated to look out for your best interests.  A buyer’s agent can help you find the best home, the best lender, and the best home inspector in your area.  That inspector should be an InterNACHI-certified home inspector because InterNACHI inspectors are the most qualified and  best-trained inspectors in the world.

Trying to buy a home without an agent or a qualified inspector is, well… unthinkable.     Deadly Mistake #3: Getting a cheap inspection.   Buying a home is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make.  This is no time to shop for a cheap inspection.  The cost of a home inspection is small relative to the value of the home being inspected.  The additional cost of hiring a certified inspector is almost insignificant by comparison.  As a home buyer, you have recently been crunching the numbers, negotiating offers, adding up closing costs, shopping for mortgages, and trying to get the best deals.  Don’t stop now!  Don’t let your real estate agent, a “patty-cake” inspector, or anyone else talk you into skimping here.      InterNACHI front-ends its membership requirements.  InterNACHI turns down more than half the inspectors who want to join because they can’t fulfill the membership requirements.    InterNACHI-certified inspectors perform the best inspections, by far.  InterNACHI-certified inspectors earn their fees many times over.  They do more, they deserve more and — yes — they generally charge a little more.  Do yourself a favor…and pay a little more for the quality inspection you deserve.

From Three Deadly Mistakes Every Home Buyer Should Avoid – InterNACHI http://www.nachi.org/3.htm#ixzz2eV3Pr76m

15 Tools Every Homeowner Should Have

15 Tools Every Homeowner Should Have

15 Tools Every Homeowner Should Have

15 Tools Every Homeowner Should Have

by Nick Gromicko
 
 
The following items are essential tools, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to ask an InterNACHI inspector during your next inspection about other tools that you might find useful.
 
1.  Plunger
A clogged sink or toilet is one of the most inconvenient household problems that you will face. With a plunger on hand, however, you can usually remedy these plumbing issues relatively quickly. It is best to have two plungers — one for the sink and one for the toilet.

 

2.  Combination Wrench Set

One end of a combination wrench set is open and the other end is a closed loop. Nuts and bolts are manufactured in standard and metric sizes, and because both varieties are widely used, you’ll need both sets of wrenches. For the most control and leverage, always pull the wrench toward you, instead of pushing on it. Also, avoid over-tightening.

3.  Slip-Joint Pliers

Use slip-joint pliers to grab hold of a nail, a nut, a bolt, and much more. These types of pliers are versatile because of the jaws, which feature both flat and curved areas for gripping many types of objects. There is also a built-in slip-joint, which allows the user to quickly adjust the jaw size to suit most tasks.

4.  Adjustable Wrench

Adjustable wrenches are somewhat awkward to use and can damage a bolt or nut if they are not handled properly. However, adjustable wrenches are ideal for situations where you need two wrenches of the same size. Screw the jaws all the way closed to avoid damaging the bolt or nut.

5.  Caulking Gun
Caulking is the process of sealing up cracks and gaps in various structures and certain types of piping. Caulking can provide noise mitigation and thermal insulation, and control water penetration. Caulk should be applied only to areas that are clean and dry.
6.  Flashlight
None of the tools in this list is of any use if you cannot visually inspect the situation. The problem, and solution, are apparent only with a good flashlight. A traditional two-battery flashlight is usually sufficient, as larger flashlights may be too unwieldy.
7.  Tape Measure
Measuring house projects requires a tape measure — not a ruler or a yardstick. Tape measures come in many lengths, although 25 feet is best.  Measure everything at least twice to ensure accuracy.

8.  Hacksaw A hacksaw is useful for cutting metal objects, such as pipes, bolts and brackets. Hacksaws look thin and flimsy, but they’ll easily cut through even the hardest of metals. Blades are replaceable, so focus your purchase on a quality hacksaw frame.   9. Torpedo Level Only a level can be used to determine if something, such as a shelf, appliance or picture, is correctly oriented. The torpedo-style level is unique because it not only shows when an object is perfectly horizontal or vertical, but it also has a gauge that shows when an object is at a 45-degree angle. The bubble in the viewfinder must be exactly in the middle — not merely close.
10.  Safety Glasses / Goggles For all tasks involving a hammer or a power tool, you should always wear safety glasses or goggles. They should also be worn while you mix chemicals.
11.  Claw Hammer A good hammer is one of the most important tools you can own.  Use it to drive and remove nails, to pry wood loose from the house, and in combination with other tools. They come in a variety of sizes, although a 16-ounce hammer is the best all-purpose choice.
12.  Screwdriver Set It is best to have four screwdrivers: a small and large version of both a flathead and a Phillips-head screwdriver. Electrical screwdrivers are sometimes convenient, but they’re no substitute.  Manual screwdrivers can reach into more places and they are less likely to damage the screw.

13.  Wire Cutters
Wire cutters are pliers designed to cut wires and small nails. The side-cutting style (unlike the stronger end-cutting style) is handy, but not strong enough to cut small nails.

14.  Respirator / Safety Mask While paints and other coatings are now manufactured to be less toxic (and lead-free) than in previous decades, most still contain dangerous chemicals, which is why you should wear a mask to avoid accidentally inhaling. A mask should also be worn when working in dusty and dirty environments. Disposable masks usually come in packs of 10 and should be thrown away after use. Full and half-face respirators can be used to prevent the inhalation of very fine particles that ordinary facemasks will not stop.

15.  Duct Tape
This tape is extremely strong and adaptable. Originally, it was widely used to make temporary repairs to many types of military equipment. Today, it’s one of the key items specified for home emergency kits because it is water-resistant and extremely sticky.

From 15 Tools Every Homeowner Should Own – InterNACHI http://www.nachi.org/15-tools.htm#ixzz2eKU8j7AB

10 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home

10 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home

by Nick Gromicko, Ben Gromicko, and Kenton Shepard 

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#ixzz2d16392rU

Heating and Air Conditioning Average Life Span

Heating and Air Conditioning units have limited lives. Here are some expected lifetimes of a variety of types of equipment used to heat and cool homes.

GAS-FIRED HOT AIR                                         15-25 YEARS

OIL-FIRED HOT AIR                                          20-30 YEARS

CAST IRON BOILER                                          30-50 YEARS

(Hot water or steam)                             or more

STEEL BOILER                                                  30-40 YEARS

(Hot water or steam)                            or more

COPPER BOILER                                               10-20 YEARS

(Hot water or steam)

CIRCULATING PUMP (Hot water)                     10-15 YEARS

AIR CONDITIONING COMPRESSOR                  8-12 YEARS

HEAT PUMP                                                      8-12 YEARS

Preventive Home Maintenance Tips

Here is a collection of preventive home maintenance tips that you can use to ensure your home stays in tip-top shape!

FOUNDATION AND MASONRY Home Maintenance: Basements, Exterior Walls: To prevent seepage and condensation problems.

a. Check basement for dampness and leakage after wet weather.
b. Check chimneys, deterioration chimney caps, loose and missing mortar.
c. Maintain grading sloped away from foundation walls.

ROOFS, GUTTERS AND EAVESTROUGH Home Maintenance: To prevent roof leaks, condensation seepage and decay problems.

a. Check for damaged, loose or missing shingles, blisters.
b. Clean gutters, leaders, strainers, window wells, drains. Be sure downspouts direct water away from foundation. Cut back    tree limbs.
c. Check flashings around roof stacks, vents, skylights, chimneys as sources of leakage. Check vents, louvers and chimneys for birds nests, squirrels, insects.
d. Check fascias and soffits for paint flaking, leakage and decay.

EXTERIOR WALLS Home Maintenance: To prevent paint failure, decay and moisture penetration problems.

a. Check painted surface for pain flaking or paint failure. Cut back shrubs.
b. Check exterior masonry walls for cracks, looseness, missing or broken mortar.

DOORS AND WINDOWS Home Maintenance: To prevent air and weather penetration problems.

a. Check caulking for decay around doors, windows, corner boards and joints. Recaulk and weatherstrip as needed. Check glazing and putty around windows.

ELECTRICAL Home Maintenance: For safe electrical performance, mark and label each circuit.

a. Trip circuit breakers every six months and found fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) monthly.
b. Check condition of lamp cords, extension cords and plugs. Replace at first sign of wear and damage.
c. Check exposed wiring and cable for wear or damage.
d. If you experience slight tingling shock from handling or touching any appliance, disconnect the appliance and have it repaired. If lights flicker or dim, or if appliances go on and off unnecessarily, call a licensed electrician.

PLUMBING: For preventative maintenance.

a. Drain exterior water lines, hose bibbs, sprinklers and pool equipment in the fall.
b. Drawn off sediment in water heaters monthly or per manufacturer’s instructions.
c. Have septic tank cleaned every 2 years.

HEATING AND COOLING Home Maintenance:: For comfort, efficiency, energy conservation and safety.

a. Change or clean furnace filters, air condition filters and electronic filters as needed.
b. Clean and service humidifier. Check periodically and annually.
c. Have oil burning equipment services annually.

INTERIOR: General house maintenance.

a. Check bathroom tile joints, tub grouting and caulking. Be sure all tile joints in bathrooms are kept well sealed with tile grout to prevent damage to walls, floors and ceilings below.
b. Close crawl vents in winter and open in summer.
c. Check underside of roof for water stains, leaks, dampness and condensation, particularly in attics and around chimneys.

KNOW THE LOCATION OF:

a. Main water shutoff valve.
b. Main emergency shutoff switch for the heating system.
c. Main electrical disconnect or breaker.