Posts Tagged ‘Home Inspection Companies’

Round Rock Home Inspector Shares A/C Information

hvac air conditioner heat transfer condensing unit air flow plantsHere’s an easy thing you can do to keep your air conditioner running as efficiently as possible: Don’t crowd the condensing unit, the outdoor part of your AC. In the photo at left, you see a common problem. I took this picture at a brand new house a couple of months ago, and there’s not a problem right now, but what’s going to happen to those shrubs planted around the condenser?

Yep. As the shrubbery gets bigger, it’s going to crowd that condensing unit. When it does, it’s going to restrict the air flow across the condensing coil. Remember the articles I wrote about the refrigeration cycle — part 1, in plain English and part 2, in a bit more technical language? If not, now might be a good time to go read them.

Basically, the condensing coil is where all the heat that got picked up from your home gets dumped outside. Your AC is engineered to remove the heat by having a designed amount of air flow over the condensing coil. If less air flows over the coil, less heat is removed. That means the whole cycle warms up a bit, and your AC works harder to keep your home cool.

You’ll pay extra for it in more than one way: (i) Your monthly electric bill will be higher; (ii) your equipment may not last as long, so you’ll pay more in repair bills and in having to replace the AC sooner.

There are a lot of ways that condensing units get their air flow blocked. The most common is from plants growing too close to the unit, as shown above. Dirt and leaves piling up around the condenser cut air flow, too. These are things you can easily control by trimming the plants around the condenser and clearing away any debris.

If enough dirt gets between the fins of the condensing unit, that’s also going to reduce air flow. When you get your HVAC system serviced each year (you do, don’t you?), the service tech should check and clean the coil if necessary.

Sometimes, the HVAC company creates the problem. The photo below shows one such case.

hvac air conditioner condensing unit too close bad airflow energy efficiency

Not only are those condensing units too close to the wall of the house and the fence, they’re way too close to each other, too. They’re going to be fighting each other for air when adjacent units are running at the same time. This is a terrible installation and should never have passed the building inspection.

So, keep some space around your condenser and let your air conditioner breathe!

Round Rock Home Inspectors Shares Spray Foam Article

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EPA: More Data Needed to Ensure Spray Foam Safety

Spray-polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation, growing in popularity, is under scrutiny from EPA. What’s a homeowner or builder to do?

Posted on May 16 by Tristan Roberts

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Icynene’s open-cell spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation is among the SPF industry products under scrutiny by EPA and others.

A friend of mine used to be a long-haul truck driver. At one point he even became a trainer working with new drivers.

Over dinner recently, I asked what was one key lesson that he would want to impart to any new driver. While he was thinking about it, his wife lit up and offered this advice (which I’m sure is not from the company manual): make sure your seatbelt is removed before you begin a hot swap.

In trucking, a hot swap occurs in a truck being driven by a team of two drivers when they are in a real hurry to make a delivery. When one is ready to take a break and turn the wheel over, rather than taking the time to stop, they may decide to trade places while the vehicle is moving down the highway.

Hot swapping green building techniques

While I’m sure that experienced drivers can “hot swap” quite, um, professionally, it is an inherently unsafe practice. This is underscored by the fact that you have to remove your seatbelt, in a speeding tractor-trailer, before you can even begin!

When I heard this, it felt to me a lot like a situation we face with some regularity in green building. We are racing to make our buildings safer, healthier for occupants, less-polluting, and lower carbon. But we are behind in that race. For example, we have been paying serious attention to the health effects of building materials on indoor air quality for only about 20 years. We have been inventing new chemicals that affect our indoor air quality for well over 100 years.

Unfortunately for the builder, homeowner, or renter who simply wants some reliable advice on what to worry about from an environmental perspective, and what not to worry about, things sometimes change or crop up unexpectedly. And we’re not usually completely ready with a seamless hot swap. Remember when compact fluorescent bulbs first came out? Remember the first low-flow toilets? Best forget them.

The issue of the day? SPF safety

The issue of the day is spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation products. Last month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new action plan for a key family of chemicals used in SPF. Isocyanates, such as MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate), are chemicals that react with polyols to form polyurethane. They can also cause skin, eye, and lung irritation, asthma, and chemical sensitization when absorbed through the skin or inhaled.

Polyurethane is in a lot of stuff, from foam mattresses to bowling balls. When it is fully reacted or “cured,” it is stable and its chemistry is not a significant concern. Some products, however, such as adhesives, coatings, and spray foam, react while being applied by builders or homeowners doing insulation retrofits, and continue to react for some hours afterwards, and may contain “uncured” isocyanates to which people may be exposed.

This is not news: worker protection protocols and quality assurance programs for SPF installation were developed by the SPF industry decades ago.

Why the fuss now?

As Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, put it, “There has been an increase in recent years in promoting the use of foams and sealants by do-it-yourself energy-conscious homeowners, and many people may now be unknowingly exposed to risks from these chemicals.” You can add to that a growing number of complaints about adverse health effects from homeowners and occupants of office buildings where SPF has been applied during energy retrofits.

EPA’s SPF action plan for MDI is being developed within its Design for the Environment (DfE) program under jurisdiction from the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which requires U.S. chemical manufacturers, importers, processors, and distributors to report to EPA any information suggesting that one of their chemicals “presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment.”

While the reported data is technically public information, penetrating it is very difficult, in some measure because manufacturers often claim confidentiality for proprietary components in their chemical formulations. But the cumulative evidence to date has moved EPA to take real action on this issue, mainly to gather reports of adverse health effects from manufacturers, and to consider initial rulemaking for both consumer-applied and professionally applied SPF products.

The action plan leaves open questions about how far EPA will go to clamp down on these products, but it’s safe to think of this as a shot across the bow from EPA for the SPF industry.

We don’t know much about SPF offgassing

In addition to the presence of MDI in the product, the chemical reaction and curing of SPF can produce other chemicals of concern: excess isocyanates, aldehydes, amine catalysts, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). We don’t know much about the nature and quantities of offgassing of these substances, the curing rates of SPF, or how health risks can change with improper environmental conditions or mixing ratios during the SPF process.

To that end, there is a new ASTM standard under development. John Sebrowski, a senior associate scientist with Bayer MaterialScience and chair of the task group working on this ASTM standard, is helping develop a standard practice to establish re-occupancy times after onsite SPF application. “We are currently getting ready to conduct research using micro-scale chambers and thermal desorption techniques to measure emissions,” he said.

Safe re-entry times

When asked what relationship the current ASTM draft standard and research might have to the existing protocol offered by Bayer MaterialScience (which recommends re-occupancy times of 12 hours and 24 hours for workers and occupants, respectively), Sebrowski responded that the protocol would be used as a starting point, but “we are also investigating other approaches to measuring the emissions.”

According to EPA, safe re-entry times put forward by manufacturers vary between 8–24 hours for one-component SPF and 23–72 hours for two-component SPF. But more research and standardized testing is clearly needed. EPA is not working alone on this issue; several other federal agencies — including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission — are part of the team. Each is concerned about protecting workers or consumers from health effects from the increasingly prevalent site-applied SPF.

Should we stop using SPF?

“I think you have to be careful when you discuss the toxicity of spray foam,” says David Price, environmental scientist in the indoor environment division of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “I have not seen any information at this point that there is any hazard to occupants.” While Price supports EPA’s decision to gather data on possible post-occupancy issues with SPF, he doesn’t want the public to “find the accused guilty before you hear the case.”

Price has seen some of the anecdotal evidence as well as some of the scientific findings, and says that no cause-effect relationship has yet been found between SPF installation and post-occupancy illnesses. “It’s appropriate for EPA to look at this stuff; that’s what we do,” Price said. “But I’m very sensitive about tagging a product as ‘of concern’ or ‘may be toxic'” before the data has been gathered and reviewed.

Environmental Building News contacted several builders and foam industry professionals, and found that most were unwilling to be quoted on an issue they deemed sensitive and still-unfolding. One leading green remodeler offered this perspective: “I have stopped using SPF in any of my projects at this point. I simply can’t and won’t jeopardize my clients’ health and the reputation of my company by using building materials with the emissions profile of SPF.”

Since this news came out, comments on message boards that I have seen have tended toward defense of SPF and annoyance (that’s putting it politely) at EPA. The undercurrent seems to be: Is the whole industry going to get stained because of some untrained DIYers? Let’s hope that the general public doesn’t jump to conclusions too rapidly — that EPA gathers its data and that its process works. And let’s be real: not all SPF insulations jobs are perfect — some have even ended tragically.

Recommendations for continued use

SPF has unique advantages that can be difficult to replace. If you decide to continue using it while EPA continues its work, here are some recommendations.

Make sure that your SPF contractor installs SPF correctly, employing quality control/assurance protocols such as the following the Spray Foam Quality Control – Canadian Installation Requirements, or the ABAA Quality Assurance program.

Follow current EPA recommendations on a safe approach to installation, from the publication Quick Safety Tips for SPF Users.

If you are a homeowner or building manager or employee in a building in which SPF will be installed, follow EPA’s Steps to Control Exposure.

Also, stay tuned; the SPF industry is working on a new class of SPFs — hybrid non-isocyanate polyurethanes (HPINUs) — that may pose much less serious occupant and worker health issues than our current slate of SPF building products.

What do you think about the SPF issue? Do you use it, or not? Why? Let us know below.

Tristan Roberts is Editorial Director at BuildingGreen, Inc., in Brattleboro, Vermont, which publishes information on green building solutions.

Note: Peter Yost, residential program manager at BuildingGreen, and Paula Melton, associate editor, contributed reporting to this column.

Round Rock Home Inspector Receives Top Reviews

Amy Waiser – May 2, 2011

Honesty, integrity and professionalism come to mind when Charles Schiller or Gateway Inspections are mentioned!
I have had the privileged of having Charles inspect two houses for my family. I was extremely please by how much time and attention to small details that Charles took while inspecting! My husband and I knew exactly what we were buying and had confidence that we were not purchasing a money pit. I would highly recommend Charles Schiller and Gateway Inspections for all inspection needs!

Gateway Inspections Inc has been “Protecting Home Buyers for Over Twenty Years” just like you from getting stuck with unexpected post closing expenses!  So, if you don’t want to be stuck buying a “Money Pit” contact Gateway Inspections today at 512-639-9905 or email schillercharles@gmail.com.

Round Rock Home Inspector Discovers Drainage Issues

Round Rock Home Inspector Discovers Drainage Issues

Front Yard Slopes Toward Court Yard

Round Rock Home Inspector discovers drainage issues with the front yard sloping toward the front entry court yard. The lower area in front of the door stands with several inches of water during heavier rains.

It is recommended for gutters and downspouts to be arranged to help divert the water around each side of the house.
If you want a home inspector that’s so thorough you won’t get stuck buying a “Money Pit” then you need Gateway Inspections working for you. We have been Protecting Home Owners for Over Twenty Years, just like you, from getting stuck with unexpected post closing expenses!

You will receive a computer generated report complete with color photographs of the issues we have uncovered. So don’t wait, schedule your inspection today and get the Peace Of Mind you deserve when buying your next home! Call 512-639-9905 or email: schillercharles@gmail.com to schedule your inspection.

Round Rock Home Inspector Discuss Gutter Issues

Round Rock Home Inspector discovered the gutter pulling away from the fascia, with nails backing out and space between the fascia and the gutter. I would recommend repairs to keep water from running between the fascia and the gutter and potentially rotting the fascia system and to keep rain water going to the downspouts as planned. This will allow for the rain water to drain way from the foundation and not cause any problems.

If you want a home inspection that is so thorough you won’t get stuck buying a “Money Pit”, you need Gateway Inspections working for you. Gateway Inspections has been “Protecting Home Buyers for Over Twenty Years”, just like you, from getting stuck with unexpected post closing expenses!

You will receive a computer generated report complete with color pictures of the issues we discover. So don’t wait, schedule you inspection today and get the Peace Of Mind you deserve when buying your next home! Call now at 512-639-9905 or email: schillercharles@gmail.com.

Gateway Inspections Inc
Professional Inspector TREC #2717
http://www.roundrockhomeinspector.com

Round Rock Home Inspector Finds Creosote In Chimney Flue

Round Rock Home Inspector discovered creosote buildup during this chimney inspection. When the damper was opened the creosote fell down from the flue. The flue should be cleaned to minimize the potential for a flue fire. I would recommend a professional chimney sweep to clean and evaluate the flue for proper installation.

If you want a home inspector that is so thorough you won’t get stuck with a “Money Pit”, then you need Gateway Inspections working for you. We have been “Protecting Home Buyers for Over Twenty Years”, just like you, from getting stuck with unexpected post closing expenses!

You will receive a computer generated report complete with color pictures of the issues we uncover. So don’t wait, schedule your inspection today at 512-639-9905 and get the Peace Of Mind you deserve when buying your next home!

Gateway Inspections Inc
Professional Inspector TREC #2717
512-639-9905
email: schillercharles@gmail.com
http://www.roundrockhomeinspector.com

Round Rock Home Inspector Finds Needed Repairs In Log Home

Cracks and checks in the exterior logs repairs are recommended.

Cracks and checks in exterior logs.

Log homes make very beautiful and interesting homes to live in.  The cracks observed throughout the exterior logs in this home should be filled with the proper caulking and the sealant kept in top shape to keep water and the elements from damaging the logs. Proper care and maintenance should be done on a regular schedule and this log home will last for years to come.

If your purchasing a home, you need an inspector that is thorough and won’t let you get stuck with unexpected post closing expenses! Schedule your inspection today at 512-639-9905 and get the protection and information you need while buying your home.

You will receive a computer generated report complete with color photographs of the issues we uncover. So, don’t wait, schedule your inspection today and get the Peace of Mind you deserve when buying your next home.

Round Rock Home Inspector Reveals Split Door Trim

Split Door Trim

The damaged trim on the door could be a hazard to people walking by the door by hanging on their clothing or getting a splinter in them.

When buying your next home you need a home inspector that will protect you from costly post closing expenses. Gateway Inspections has been Protecting Home Buyers for Over Twenty Years, so schedule your inspection today at 512 639 9905 or email: schillercharles@gmail.com and get the Peace Of Mind you deserve when buying your next home.

Round Rock Home Inspector Finds Plumbing Issues

Round Rock Home Inspector finds issues with the kitchen plumbing with water hammer and other problems. When buying your home you need a home inspector who will be thorough so you won’t get stuck with unexpected post closing expenses. You will get a comprehensive report complete with color pictures of the issues we have uncovered. Schedule your inspection today at 512 639 9905.

Round Rock Home Inspector Reveals Improper Grading

Dog holes next to the foundation.

Dog holes dug next to the foundation.

Dog holes dug next to the foundation can catch water and cause potential problems with the foundation. Water should not be allowed to pond around the foundation. Final grade around the house should slope from the foundation at the rate of 1/2″ to 1 inch per ft. for 6 to 10 ft.

If you want an inspector who will protect your interest while buying a home, you need Gateway Inspections working for you. We have been Protecting Home Buyers for Over Twenty Years. So, schedule your inspection today at 512 639 9905 and get the Peace of Mind you deserve!