|Ask The Inspector |
Q. What areas and appliances will my home inspector check in the kitchen of the house I plan to buy?
A. The kitchen is a room where nearly all major home systems — mechanical, electrical and plumbing — come together. As in the bathroom and laundry room, the presence of plumbing in the kitchen makes it one room that home owners should also routinely examine for leaks.
During a general home inspection, your inspector will examine the condition and functionality of many kitchen components, including the interiors of doors and windows. Your inspector will also check the countertops, cabinets and drawers. Looking inside cabinets and drawers is a good way to spot current leaks and past damage. At the same time, the inspector can make note of missing drawer pulls and the operation of the sliding mechanisms.
Leaks are a major point of the kitchen inspection. If the dishwasher is built-in, then your home inspector will run it and check for leaks. Leaks in the kitchen sink are common at pipe connections and under the basket strainer. Leaks also may appear on the countertop between the sink and the wall if water has had a chance to pool behind the faucet and seep under the surface into the wood below. And, finally, extendable sprayers and faucets are common sites for leaks.
The kitchen is generally the room with the most electrical outlets in the home. Your home inspector will check a representative number of outlets to be sure that they are grounded and wired properly. In addition,ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets are needed in the kitchen near the sink, so your inspector will note whether those are present and functioning correctly.
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Do You Need to Add a Vapor Barrier in Your Home?
Because common foundation materials, such as concrete blocks, are somewhat porous, adding an air or vapor barrier can be important an important step when it comes to insulating a basement, crawl space, garage or other unheated area of a house. To improve comfort and utility costs for adjacent heated rooms, home owners may consider adding insulation to the ceiling or walls of the unheated space. Another thing to consider is adding a vapor barrier.
A vapor barrier installed on the warm side of the insulation will prevent air from moving through the insulation, adding to the insulation’s effectiveness. A vapor barrier is difficult to install once insulation is already in place, so if you are planning to re-insulate an area of your home, you might want to consider also adding a vapor barrier.
It is important to avoid putting vapor barriers on the cold side of the insulation. This can trap moisture in the insulation, causing possible rot around wood framing or walls. Air and vapor barriers also should not be used to hold insulation to the ceiling of an unheated garage or crawl space.
An earthen floor in a crawl space or basement can cause elevated moisture levels in the air and promote rot in wooden structural beams, so it is advisable to add a moisture barrier like a polyethylene sheet over such floors. The moisture barrier should be sealed at the joints and around the perimeter. A layer of gravel or sand can help prevent rips or tears.
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Snapshots From The Field
What’s Wrong With This Photo?
The drain stopper pivot rod is designed to hold a hand towel or washcloth.
Flex piping is used on drain pipes to make them easier to install.
The drain stopper pivot rod is installed backward.
The current position of the drain stopper pivot arm is correct to allow the sink to drain properly.
Accordion-style PVC drain pipes are not recommended.
C and E.
Correct Answer F.The drain stopper pivot arm is installed backward, so the sink will not drain properly. In addition, although it makes installation easier, accordion-style PVC is not recommended for drain pipes, as it tends to clog faster and require more maintenance.
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Keep Your Home Safe and Secure
While many home owners have installed home security systems, plenty can’t afford the expense of installation and monthly service fees. Here are some inexpensive tips to help you safeguard your home if you don’t have a security system.
Security cameras are very useful, but even dummy cameras will deter many burglars.
Even if you don’t have a security system, you can buy decals that say the premises are protected by an alarm. These stickers are available at most hardware and home improvement stores. Place them prominently on doors and windows.
When you go out of town or on vacation, put mail and newspaper deliveries on hold, and ask a neighbor to watch your house. Also, refrain from announcing on social media sites that you’re going on vacation or are on vacation. It’s tempting to post those pictures right after you take them, but that lets burglars know your house is empty.
It sounds like common sense to make sure all of your doors and windows are locked, but you’d be surprised how many home owners become burglary victims because of unlocked doors and windows.
If you’re working on a home improvement project, never leave a ladder outside — it allows burglars to easily climb into high windows, which home owners often leave unlocked.
Close your blinds and curtains when you’re away from home or sleeping to prevent snoopy burglars from scoping out your valuables through the windows.
Hide your valuables in unlikely places so burglars are less likely to find them. Click here for some clever ideas.
You can add layers of protection to your house with deadbolts, chain locks, slide bolt locks, window alarm kits and doorstop alarms.
Use light to your advantage: Add timers to indoor lights, lamps, and radios or TVs to make it look and sound like you’re home even when you’re away. Outdoors, install dusk-to-dawn photocell motion lights that will light up at night when someone comes near your house or door.
Don’t leave electronics boxes at the curb — this only lets thieves know you recently bought a computer, large TV, or other item they’d love to steal.
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Freshen Up Your Garbage Disposal
The kitchen is a source of odors in the home. Some, like apple pie, are pleasing. Others, like the odor emitting from a kitchen drain, can hit you right in the gut.
To clean and freshen your drains, pour the juice from half a lemon and a handful of baking soda down the drain. Flush well with hot water.
Garbage disposals are another part of the sink that can get stinky. To freshen your garbage disposal:
Cut a lemon in quarters
Run cold water down the disposal.
Turn on the disposal and drop in one piece of lemon.
Follow with a second piece.
Once both pieces of lemon clear the disposal, add a handful of baking soda.
Remember to keep your fingers away from moving parts at all times. While the disposal runs, use the other lemons to make refreshing drinks.
Cold water should always be used with a garbage disposal because it helps congeal the fats and grease that may be in the disposal. Warm water will liquefy these items, but could cause them to congeal and block the plumbing before they are completely flushed from the system.
Although the garbage disposal itself generally requires little maintenance, the area under the kitchen sink is prone to leaks. Every month, be sure to open the cabinet doors, remove all of the items and check carefully for dampness or drips. Stopping leaks early can prevent expensive fixes later.
If your house has a septic system, there may be something you may not have thought of: If you have a garbage disposal, you likely will have will to clean the septic system more frequently because of the build-up of solid foods and grease from the disposal.
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DID YOU KNOW?
What Are Weep Holes?
Brick can be a structural component of a home, serving as the wall itself, or it can be a veneer, which is a type of siding. As a veneer, a single thickness of brick is added to the outside of a wood-framed home and serves the same purpose as any exterior siding.
One way to identify the presence of brick veneer is to look for weep holes — small openings at the bottom of brick veneer walls. Weep holes are designed to give moisture that accumulates between the home’s interior wooden wall and the exterior veneer a way out. Without weep holes for ventilation, moisture may become trapped in this cavity, causing mold, reducing the effectiveness of insulation, encouraging the formation of rot and attracting pests.
Weep holes can often be identified by open slots on a course, or row, of bricks near the foundation. The holes are typically 32 to 33 inches apart and should be kept unobstructed. It is a good idea to check and clear weep holes periodically. Do not allow dirt, mulch or broken pieces of mortar to block the holes and trap moisture inside.
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FROM OUR BLOG
Mold: Friend or Foe?
Mold in general is an important part of our ecosystem. It is all around us! Is it really harmful? Why does media treat mold as a bad thing? Is it a bad thing? Should you be concerned?
Good questions. When it comes to living in a home — an enclosed environment, so to speak — the most important issue is ensuring that you manage the environment you live in to help reduce the risk of high levels of harmful or toxic molds. Mold in general needs a food source (e.g., water or elevated moisture levels) to grow and spread.