Posts Tagged ‘Georgetown Home Inspector’
Attic Pull-Down Ladders
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.
The 2009 edition of the International Building Code (IBC) and the 2006 edition of theInternational 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.
Backflow is a potential problem in a water system because it can spread contaminated water back through a distribution system. For example, backflow at uncontrolled cross connections (cross-connections are any actual or potential connection between the public water supply and a source of contamination or pollution) can allow pollutants or contaminants to enter the potable water system. Sickness can result from ingesting water that has been contaminated due to backflow.
Back-pressure is the reverse from normal flow direction within a piping system as the result of the downstream pressure being higher than the supply pressure. This reduction in supply pressure occurs whenever the amount of water being used exceeds the amount of water being supplied (such as during water-line flushing, fire-fighting, or breaks in water mains).
back-siphonage:Back-siphonage is the reverse from normal flow direction within a piping system that is caused by negative pressure in the supply piping (i.e., the reversal of normal flow in a system caused by a vacuum or partial vacuum within the water supply piping). Back-siphonage can occur when there is a high velocity in a pipe line, when there is a line repair or break that is lower than a service point, or when there is lowered main pressure due to high-water withdrawal rate (such as during fire-fighting or water-main flushing).
Backflow prevention for residences is most commonly accomplished through the use of atmospheric vacuum breakers (AVBs). AVBs operate by allowing the entry of air into a pipe so that a siphon cannot form. AVBs are bent at 90 degrees and are usually composed of brass. Compared with backflow preventer assembles, AVBs are small, simple and inexpensive devices that require little maintenance or testing. They have long life spans and are suitable for residential purposes such as sprinkler systems. InterNACHI inspectors can check for the following:
- The AVB must be at least 6 inches above any higher point downstream of the device. For this reason, they can never be installed below grade. Even if they are installed 6 inches above grade, inspectors should make sure that they are not installed less than 6 inches above some other point in the system downstream of the device.
- The AVB cannot be installed in an enclosure containing air contaminants. If contaminated air enters the water piping, it can poison the potable water supply.
- A shut-off valve should never be placed downstream of any AVB, as this would result in continuous pressure on the AVB.
- AVBs cannot be subject to continuous pressure for 12 hours in any 24-hour period or they may malfunction.
- Spillage of water from the top of the AVB is an indication that the device has failed and needs to be replaced.
Some types of assemblies are common in commercial and agricultural applications but are rare for residential uses. The appropriate type of backflow preventer for any given application will depend on the degree of potential hazard. The primary types of backflow preventers appropriate for use at municipalities and utilities are:
- double check valves: These are commonly used in elevated tanks and non-toxic boilers. Double check-valve assemblies are effective against backflow caused by back-pressure and back-siphonage and are used to protect the potable water system from low-hazard substances. Double-checks consist of two positive-seating check valves installed as a unit between two tightly closing shut-off valves, and are fitted with testcocks.
- reduced pressure principle assemblies: These are commonly used in industrial plants, hospitals, morgues, chemical plants, irrigation systems, boilers, and fire sprinkler systems. Reduced pressure principle assemblies (RPs) protect against back-pressure and back-siphonage of pollutants and contaminants. The assembly is comprised of two internally loaded, independently operating check valves with a mechanically independent, hydraulically dependent relief valve between them.
- pressure vacuum breakers: These are commonly used in industrial plants, cooling towers, laboratories, laundries, swimming pools, lawn sprinkler systems, and fire sprinkler systems. Pressure vacuum breakers use a check valve designed to close with the aid of a spring when water flow stops. Its air-inlet valve opens when the internal pressure is one psi above atmospheric pressure, preventing non-potable water from being siphoned back into the potable system. The assembly includes resilient, seated shut-off valves and testcocks.
A number of organizations, such as the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the American Backflow Prevention Association (ABPA) offer certification courses designed to train professionals to test backflow preventers. Requirements for training vary by jurisdiction. Inspection of backflow preventers requires knowledge of installation requirements, although inspectors are not required to become certified.
Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)
- electrical cords damaged by vacuum cleaners or trapped beneath furniture or doors.
- damage to wire insulation from nails or screws driven through walls.
- appliance cords damaged by heat, natural aging, kinking, impact or over-extension.
- spillage of liquid.
- loose connections in outlets, switches and light fixtures.
E3802.12 Arc-Fault Protection of Bedroom Outlets. All branch circuits that supply120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-amp outlets installed in bedrooms shall be protected by a combination-type or branch/feeder-type arc-fault circuit interrupter installed to provide protection of the entire branch circuit.
Exception: The location of the arc-fault circuit interrupter shall be permitted to be at other than the origination of the branch circuit, provided that:
- The arc-fault circuit interrupter is installed within 6 feet of the branch circuit overcurrent device as measured along the branch circuit conductors, and
- The circuit conductors between the branch circuit overcurrent device and the arc-fault circuit interrupter are installed in a metal raceway or a cable with metallic sheath.
Dwelling Units. All 120-volt, single phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits supplying outlets installed in dwelling unit in family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, sun rooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas shall be protected by a listed arc-fault circuit interrupter, combination-type installed to provide protection of the branch circuit.
- Check that the load power wire, panel neutral wire and load neutral wire are properly connected.
- Check wiring to ensure that there are no shared neutral connections.
- Check the junction box and fixture connections to ensure that the neutral conductor does not contact a grounded conductor.
Preparing for a Home Inspection
If you are selling your house, here are some ways to make your home inspection go smoother, with fewer concerns to delay closing.
- Make sure the inspector has access, not only to the house, but also to the furnace, water heater and air- conditioning units (especially in closets, attics and crawlspaces).
- Remove items blocking access to HVAC equipment, electric service, panels, water heaters, etc.
- Check to see that the garage is open and that any water heater, utility panel and shutoffs and resets for ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) within are accessible.
- Unlock areas the inspector must access, such as attic doors or hatches, electric service panels, closets, fence gates and crawlspaces.
- Ensure that all utility services are on, with gas pilot lights burning.
- Be sure pets won’t hinder the inspection. Ideally, they should be removed from the premises or secured outside. Tell your agent about any pets at home.
- Replace burned-out bulbs to avoid a “light did not operate” report that may suggest an electrical problem.
- Remove stored items, debris and wood from the foundation. These may be cited as conditions conducive to wood-destroying insects.
- Trim tree limbs to 10 feet from the roof and shrubs to 1 foot from the house to allow access.
- Attend to broken or missing items such as doorknobs, locks and latches, windowpanes, screens and locks, and gutters, downspouts and chimney caps.
Checking these areas before your home inspection is an investment in selling your property, and will expedite your closing.
Charles Schiller Professional Home Inspector TREC #2717 512-639-9905
During the winter months with the use of fireplaces, candles and extension cords used for Christmas lights remember to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. With the added use of these heating and lighting devices these can put added stress on electrical and heating equipment which could cause fires and/or deplete the oxygen from living and sleeping areas. Be safe this Holiday Season by taking action now to test these safety devices. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Blessed New Year.
Great article to share about asbestos in homes. Highlight the link below to go to the article about Asbestos in the Home.
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Gateway Inspections Inc
“Protecting Home Buyers For Over Twenty Years”
Charles Schiller President of Gateway Inspections Inc, a professional home inspection company licensed in Texas, is invited to talk about home inspections on the Hurdie Burke radio program.
We discuss things like issues found during home inspections, take a listen to the link below.
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Professional Inspector TREC #2717
Home Safety and GFCI Protected Outlets
As a licensed professional home inspector, I test electrical outlets every day during home inspections. Ground fault circuit interrupters or GFCI is an inexpensive electrical device that can either be installed in your electrical system or built into a power cord.
These devices are used to protect you from severe electrical shocks, burns and injuries by detecting ground faults.
A ground fault is an unintentional electrical path between a power source and a grounded surface. Ground faults most often occur when equipment is damaged or defective, such that live electrical parts are no longer adequately protected from unintended contact. If your body provides a path to the ground for this current, you could be burned, severely shocked or electrocuted.
Areas that GFCI protection should be in or around all wet areas such as:
Pools, hot tubs, and receptacles that are located:
- Kitchens and island cabinets
- Wet bars
- Laundry rooms/utility sinks
- Crawl spaces/basement
- Near pools or spas
Consider using a GFCI protected cord if you are using power equipment outdoors.
GFCI’s can be damaged by voltage surges from lightning, utility switching or simply for normal usage and there may be no outward evidence or damage. If they are not working properly, they are not protecting you from shock or electrocution.
GFCI receptacles should be tested once a month it takes no special equipment or devices to test the plugs. To test a GFCI:
- Push the RESET button
- Plug in a night –light or similar device
- The night –light should be ON
- Press the TEST button
- The night-light should turn OFF
- Push the RESET button again
- The night- light should turn back ON
- If the night-light did not turn off, the GFCI is not working properly.
Malfunctioning GFCI’s do not provide shock protection. I recommend having a licensed electrician check the GFCI and correct the problem if your GFCI is not working.
Many home injuries can be avoided each year by using and testing these devices.
Charles Schiller is a licensed professional home inspector in Texas TREC #2717 For over twenty four years and president of Gateway Inspections Inc. 512-639-9905 email: email@example.com For additional inspection articles and videos go to: http://www.roundrockhomeinspector.com Follow on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GatewayInspectionsInc
http://www.RoundRockHomeInspector.com Round Rock Home Inspector inspects toilets to make sure they are functioning properly. Flapper valves can allow for water to leak past and cost you the home buyer money in unnecessary water usage.
So don’t delay schedule your home inspection today at: http://www.georgetowntxhomeinspector.com/quote/all/ for a quote on your home inspection.
I’ve been protecting home buyers, just like you, from getting stuck with those unexpected post closing expenses. Gateway Inspections Inc Protecting home buyers for 20 years.
Professional Inspector TREC #2717
Gateway Inspections Inc
http://www.RoundRockHomeInspector.com Round Rock Home Inspector inspects the exterior of homes to looks for any areas that would allow for water penetration into the wall cavity.
Don’t get stuck with those unexpected post closing expenses, schedule your home inspection today at: http://www.georgetowntxhomeinspector.com/quote/all/ and get a free quote.
Professional Inspector TREC #2717
Gateway Inspections Inc