Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Summer is here and our honey-do list has begun

Summer is here and our honey-do list has begun. As a home inspector, I see the adverse affects of not keeping the simplest elements of a home operating as intended. Here are a few tasks I suggest completing this summer.

First and foremost “Water“, is the biggest source of problems with a home. Check your gutters. Are they pitched correctly towards the downspout, clean, no leaks and extensions on downspouts to divert water away from the home? If not then get busy!

Crawl Space“, is it dry? Is it covered 100% with a plastic vapor barrier overlapped 12″ and pinned in place? If moisture is present what is causing it? Gutters/downspouts drain away from the home? Grade pitched towards the home? Air handler in the crawl space dripping condensation? Plumbing leak? If the answer is yes to any of these questions have a pro correct them.
Tree’s and Shrubs” Are there branches close to the roof that can cause damage during high winds? Are shrubs close to the siding? This will cause water to splash against the wall and keep moisture against it. I recommend minimum 2′ clearance to walls. Don’t plant shrubs or flowers close to the foundation that take a lot of water. Water can penetrate into the crawl space or cause uneven soil bearing for the foundation.

Mulch” Best practice would be to not use it against foundations. But if you must keep 6″ clearance to the start of the framing or siding on the foundation. Use cedar or other naturally insect resistant mulch.

Exterior Finish” Walk around your home and look for failed caulking joints, thin or peeling paint and indicators of water damage to your siding or trim.

Correcting issues early can save a lot of money later!

We at Affordable Home Inspections offer annual home checks at a reasonable cost that would include Roof, Exterior, Crawl Spaces, Attics or just a single component.

Call us today at 919-557-3889, visit us at www.houseinspections.com or follow us on Twitter @mikencinspector.

Monday, June 22, 2009

LIFE IN THE 1500'S

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water flow and temperature are not just how you like, think about how things used to be.
Here are some interesting facts about the 1500’s:
Most people got married in June, because they took their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.
Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other men and sons, then the women/girls and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Care had to be taken when throwing it away. Hence the saying, 'Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.'
Houses had thatched roofs. Thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and drop off the roof. Hence the saying 'It is raining cats and dogs.'
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.
The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying 'dirt poor.'
The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. Also to protect their feet against the cold floor in winter. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A cross-piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence the saying a 'thresh hold.'

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, 'Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot, nine days old.'
Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, the hosts would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could 'bring home the bacon.'
They would cut off a little pork to share with guests and would all sit around and 'chew the fat.' Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, cau sing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for nearly 400 years tomatoes were considered poisonous.
Bread was divided according to status. Servants got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or 'upper crust.'
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait to see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a 'wake.'
England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a 'bone-house' and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside, and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night to see if the bell rang. Thus the term the 'graveyard shift'.
By this method, someone could be 'saved by the bell' or was considered a 'dead ringer.'

And that's the truth. Now, whoever said History was boring? Educate someone... Share these facts with a friend.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

How to create virtual tours in Google Earth

Enhance your web site

I have been trying different methods on how to help clients in my profession. I stumbled across this article and thought it would be beneficial for Realtors to use it on there web sites. I also think it would be beneficial for builders to show there homes in a neighborhood.


If I was selling a home I would like to make the potential clients search as easy as possible. In Google Earth and Google Maps they provide tools for making this possible.
Lets take this example: A potential buyer wants to but a home in Raleigh NC. They search for a realtor and they visit there web site on the web. The realtor provides Google Earth link with all the listings of available homes in "Raleigh". The client can click on markers in the area they would like to view and see pictures of the home.
Builders could also provide the same thing for selling there homes. I'm sure allot of you already use this useful tool but if you haven't this link will provide you with step by step instructions on getting you started and put you one up on your competitor. "How to create Virtual tours"

Mike Schulz
Affordable Home Inspections
http://www.houseinspections.com

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Simple steps to keep that A/C in working order

Afforadable Home Inspections

http://www.houseinspections.com

Just wanted to add to this a little more. Your service provider should but not limited to check these items.



  1. Calibrate and level thermostat.

  2. Clean filters as needed.

  3. Monitor voltage/amps on fan motor

  4. Lubricate and inspect bearing for wear.

  5. Check condition of indoor coil

  6. Flush/treat condensate drain with anti algae.

  7. Inspect condenser coil.

  8. Monitor operating pressures of refrigerant

  9. Inspect safety devices for proper operation.

  10. Inspect disconnect box for proper rating and installation.

  11. Tighten all electrical connections if needed.

  12. Test/inspect contacts for burning, pitted contacts.

  13. Inspect electrical for exposed wiring.

  14. Test and inspect capacitors.

  15. Inspect fan blade.

  16. Clean Condenser coil/remove debris.

  17. Inspect service valves for proper operation.

  18. Measure temperature difference-supply/return

  19. Inspect duct work for energy loss.

  20. Monitor compressor for proper amperage, volt draw and wiring connections.


Information provided by www.cleanairnc-cooling.com


So if your service technician is not doing at least this maybe it's time to look for another!




Via Scott Patterson - Middle TN Home Inspector (Trace Home Inspections):

Five Simple Steps for a Happy and Cool Summer!


Summer is upon us! Today in Nashville TN, my A/C was on and it was not the first time this year! Just a few weeks ago we were in the mid 80's. The following easy steps we help homeowners in preventing a few problems from occurring with their A/C system this summer.


•· Inspect the filters - The first step in maintaining a well-functioning air conditioning system is to inspect the air filters. These should be changed or cleaned at least twice a year. Monthly maintenance is recommended if the system is in constant use or if the air is dusty and dirty. Replace that filter every month. The best time is when you pay your electric bill!


•· Make sure the machine is properly lubricated - Over time, friction can increase within the machine. Oil the motor and bearings twice a year. Be sure to turn off all electricity to the unit when servicing. NOTE: I would not recommend this for the typical homeowner! This job is best left for the professional HVAC contractor.


•· Inspect the fan belts - Check fan belts and pulleys for wear and proper tension. This is located in the "blower" compartment. Most newer systems do not have belts but rather a direct drive motor that is virtually maintenance free. If you do have belts that need replacing, have a professional replace worn parts.


•· Clean the outdoor condensing unit - Foreign objects and dirt can affect the performance of the machine. Brush away or hose off any insects, dirt or other items on the outdoor condensing unit.


•· Clean the drain line -Inspect the drain line to make sure there are not any problems with the termination. If algae is present, wash the affected area with chlorine. This will keep to keep the condensation water from overflowing and causing damage to your home.


If you have a window air conditioning unit, check the window and sill for decay, inspect the unit for rusting and spot paint if any rust is present.


I strongly recommend using a local company for yearly tune ups on your cooling and heating system. Once in the late summer/early fall for the heating system and then in the spring time for the A/C.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A LETTER OF OUTRAGE

A LETTER OF OUTRAGE


This letter was sent to the Wall Street Journal on August 8, 2008 by Alisa Wilson, Ph.D. Of Beverly Hills , CA . in response to the Wall Street Journal article titled "Where's The Outrage?" that appeared July 31,2008.

Really. I can tell you where the outrage is. The outrage is here, in this middle-aged, well-educated, upper-middle class woman. The outrage is here, but I have no representation, no voice. The outrage is here, but no one is listening for who am I!

I am not a billionaire like George Soros that can fund an entire political movement.
I am not a celebrity like Barbra Streisand that can garner the attention of the press to promote political candidates.
I am not a film maker like Michael Moore or Al Gore that can deliver misleading movies to the public.

The outrage is here, but unlike those with money or power, I don't know how to reach those who feel similarly in order to effect change..
Why am I outraged? I am outraged that my country, the United States of America, is in a state of moral and ethical decline. There is no right or wrong anymore, just what's fair.

Is it fair that millions of Americans who overreached and borrowed more than they could afford are now being bailed out by the government and lending institutions to stave off foreclosure? Why shouldn't these people be made to pay the consequences for their poor judgment?

When my husband and I purchased our home, we were careful to purchase only what we could afford. Believe me, there are much larger, much nicer homes that I would have loved to have purchased. But, taking responsibility for my behavior and my life, I went with the house that we could afford, not the house that we could not afford. The notion of personal responsibility has all but died in our country.

I am outraged, that the country that welcomed my mother as an immigrant from Hitler's Nazi Germany and required that she and her family learn English now allows itself to be overrun with illegal immigrants and worse, caters to those illegal immigrants.

I am outraged that my hard-earned taxes help support those here illegally. That the Los Angeles Public School District is in such disarray that I felt it incumbent to send my child to private school, that every time I go to the ATM, I see "do you want to continue in English or Spanish?", that every time I call the bank, the phone company , or similar business, I hear "press 1 for English or press 2 for Spanish". WHY? This is America, our common language is English and attempts to promote a bi- or multi-lingual society are sure to fail and to marginalize those who cannot communicate in English.

I am outraged at our country's weakness in the face of new threats on American traditions from Muslims. Just this week, Tyson's Food negotiated with its union to permit Muslims to have Eid-al-Fitr as a holiday instead of Labor Day. What am I missing? Yes, there is a large Somali Muslim population working at the Tyson's plant in Tennessee. Tennessee, last I checked, is still part of the United States. If Muslims want to live and work here they should be required to live and work by our American Laws and not impose their will on our long history.

In the same week, Random House announced that they had indefinitely delayed the publication of The Jewel of Medina, by Sherry Jones, a book about the life of Mohammed's wife, Aisha due to fear of retribution and violence by Muslims. When did we become a nation ruled by fear of what other immigrant groups want? It makes me so sad to see large corporations cave rather than stand proudly on the principles that built this country.

I am outraged because appeasement has never worked as a political policy, yet appeasing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is exactly what we are trying to do. An excellent article, also published recently in the Wall Street Journal, went through over 20 years of history and why talking with Iran has been and will continue to be ineffective. Yet talk, with a madman no less, we continue to do. Have we so lost our moral compass and its ability to detect evil that we will not go in and destroy Iran 's nuclear program? Would we rather wait for another Holocaust for the Jews -- one which they would be unlikely to survive? When does it end?

As if the battle for good and evil isn't enough, now come the Environmentalists who are so afraid of global warming that they want to put a Bag tax on grocery bags in California; to eliminate Mylar balloons; to establish something as insidious as the recycle police in San Francisco. I do my share for the environment: I recycle, I use water wisely, I installed an energy efficient air conditioning unit. But when and where does the lunacy stop? Ahmadinejad wants to wipe Israel off the map, the California economy is being overrun by illegal immigrants, and the United States of America no longer knows right from wrong, good from evil. So what does California do? Tax grocery bags..

So, America, although I can tell you where the outrage is, this one middle-aged, well-educated, upper middle class woman is powerless to do anything about it. I don't even feel like my vote counts because I am so outnumbered by those who disagree with me.

Alisa Wilson, Ph.D. Beverly Hills, California

There are a lot more out there who think just like Alisa Wilson. The only difference, she put her thoughts in an email that will reach thousands. I would like to keep this going and see how big it gets.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Let's Twitter






You know over the last two weeks I have been using twitter. At first I thought this was a useless app. But after using it you get addicted and start following friends, news, Government, Demi Moore :-), etc. I tweet all the time to my friends and just over a week or so I picked up almost 20 followers, why who knows.

It struck me today that this can be a useful tool for home inspectors. If we all signed up we can send a tweet of a problem while you are on site and someone could answer it. It would also work well with Realtors if they had a question. You can install these little apps on your phone, palm desktop etc. There are other apps that work with it like twirl. It's a little pop up window on my desktop letting me know if something is written by people I follow. It also lets you reply right there so you don't have to sign in on a browser.

It is also a useful tool for adding tweets to update comments on Plaxo, My Space, Face Book, etc. all from a little app on my desktop or phone.

Who knows you could get a big following................ and increase your business!



Mike

www.houseinspections.com

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Corrupt Government

It pulls my short hairs when I read the Raleigh News. We had a drought for awhile not long ago. They where putting restrictions on water usage. Businesses had to install water conservative fixtures etc. Now that everyone has cut back they want to raise the water rates because not enough water is being used. They want to raise the rate another 17% over the already 15% they are adding this year.

Am I the only one out there that is pissed.

Mike Schulz
www.houseinspections.com

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Usefull Tools


We all want great ranking when someone searches for whatever we may be selling. This is hard to accomplish and takes a lot of time. Here is a tool you may already be using that is helpful for determining how your website is performing. http://www.google.com/analytics/

Another great tool to check your ranking is http://www.yourpagerank.info/
The above will help you determine how your site is performing and give you ideas on how to make it better.

Mike
www.houseinspections.com

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Copied from a uknown source

Absolutely the funniest joke ever......ON US !!! Let it sink in. Quietly we go like sheep to slaughter. Does anybody out there have any memory of the reason given for the establishment of the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ..... during the Carter Administration?
Anybody?
Anything?
No? Didn't think so ! Bottom line .. we've spent several hundred billion dollars in support of an agency ... the reason for which not one person who reads this can remember.
Ready??????? It was very simple .. and at the time everybody thought it very appropriate... The 'Department of Energy' was instituted on 8- 04-1977 TO LESSEN OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL.
Hey, pretty efficient, huh????? AND NOW IT'S 2008, 31 YEARS LATER ... AND THE BUDGET FOR THIS NECESSARY DEPARTMENT IS AT$24.2 BILLION A YEAR and IT HAS 16,000 FEDERAL EMPLOYEES AND APPROXIMATELY 100,000 CONTRACT EMPLOYEES AND LOOK AT THE JOB IT HAS DONE! THIS IS WHERE YOU SLAP YOUR FOREHEAD AND SAY 'WHAT WAS I THINKING?'
Ah, yes, good ole bureaucracy.. And NOW we are going to turn the Banking System, health care & the Auto Industry over to them?
God Help Us !!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Things I find at an Inspection



It's funny some of things I find. I wish I would of started a scrap book years ago. Some people don't understand the importance of a inspection. Things I find could save them thousands. At this link this is just a small sample of items that I just started collecting. I will add to them time to time.




Facebook





Mike





http://www.houseinspections.com/

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hard Times

Recent weeks in Raleigh, NC the real estate market has picked up. I have been staying pretty busy but still doing only a little over half from last year. I hate to say though that the influx of governments money (our tax dollars) will only be short lived and is just a band aid on a mortal wound. The layoff's are still continuing and some large companies are on there second to third round of layoffs. This will only add more foreclosed homes into the market that is already overwhelmed.

The government will not to be able to spend there way out of this road to disaster and it's going to be a few years before turning around. We have not hit bottom. I believe 09 will be worse then 08.
I believe you should start saving for these hard times and I personally am not contributing to my retirement account this year. I have lost over half mu retirement and I don't believe the market is going to get better in the short run. I might as well throw the money out the window then put it in the market right now.I don't want to sound like doom and gloom but we need to face that we are in for a hard correction.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lost Data

Just recently I lost a hard drive and had to have the data recovered. I just did not back up like I should. On a Forum someone suggest syncbac. I downloaded the free software and it is simple to use and backs up automatically.
http://download.cnet.com/SyncBack-Freeware/3000-2242_4-10413802.html

I just tell it what folders I want to back up and where too. I have a laptop, desktop and two external hard drives. When I change something in that folder it will sync all my devices. It works in the back ground and you never have to worry about backing up again.
This is a must have!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cost of Inspection

video

Clients often call and want discounts on your fee for Inspections. This video pretty much depicts what the phone call is like.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Septic Systems

One of the most neglected components of a home is the septic system. Most people don't realize that septic systems are not self maintaining and need serviced. A system should be pumped every three to five years depending on your family size. Since 2000 septic systems have a filter that needs to be cleaned every three years, and in my opinion should be cleaned once a year to prevent blockage.
The most common septic system is a gravity flow system. It consist of waste tank, distribute box and effluent drain lines. Depending on the soil, number of bedrooms and topography that will determine the tank size and the number of drain lines and length. Second most common type of system is the above plus a holding tank with a pump. This is usually for pumping the fluids from the holding tank to the distribute box located higher up the grade or to a different location off the property.
The waste tank consist of two compartments divided by a baffle wall. The baffle wall is located across the width of the tank and it extends from the top down and bottom up leaving a slot in the center. This keeps the solids that sink to the bottom and the grease that floats on the top from passing over to the second compartment. The first compartment will hold the solids and fats and oils while it breaks down. Typically the fats oil and grease will stay afloat on the top of the tank and the solids will sink to the bottom. The solids will break down to a certain extent but the grease will not. The effluent in the center of the two will pass through the baffle wall and over into the second chamber compartment for further microbe break down. In the second department there is an outlet pipe with a baffle "T" which also helps keep Solids from leaving the tank and possibly obstructing the drain field lines.
In 2000 they required filters to be installed in the "T" to further help with drain field obstruction. This filter will need pulled out and cleaned periodically to prevent it from being stopped up and backing up your system. In the first compartment of the waste tank the solids will only break down to a certain point. The fats and oils will accumulate on the top and the tank buildup on the top and bottom will give less Retention time for the new waste to break down. Over time the less retention time can cause blockage and possibly field failure.
The two systems mentioned are the most common type and there are numerous types of systems that need maintained on a more frequent basis. Get educated about the type of system you have and you should have many years of trouble free use.
To read more about septic systems and the Dos and Don'ts visit my web site at http://www.houseinspections.com/ and click on the septic link. I am a certified septic inspector issued by the state and would be glad to answer your questions or schedule an appointment.