Archive for January 11th, 2008

Common Questions on a Home Inspection

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Whether we are performing Miami home inspections, Broward home inspections, Palm Beach home inspection, or Florida home inspections in general, the same questions seem to always come up. So I would like to take some time and post these questions with some informative answers.
Roofing System Inspection– What is a leak?

During the course of our roofing inspection, we often find leaks in the roof which have not created a ceiling stain. A couple common scenarios could be if someone has nailed Christmas lights to the edge of the roof, or bolted a satellite dish to the roof. Just because it doesn’t rain inside your living room whenever there is a storm, doesn’t mean it’s not a leak. When metal nail penetrates every layer of your roof, you have a blocked hole in the waterproofing material. The metal nail expands and contracts at a different rate than your roofing system which causes the nail to, over time, work its way out. Thus leaving the hole, without the blockage, which allows moisture to eventually penetrate the roof.

Termite Inspection – No live insects are found, so I don’t need to treat the house, right?
Wrong. Some people think that even if we find termite damaged wood, but no insects, that damage must be old and the termites have since left. If we find evidence of termites (such as pellets, wings, or damaged wood) in a structure and it has not been treated, our inspectors will always recommend treatment. To explain this, I usually think back to my childhood when my mother would prepare a sandwich just the way I liked it. She would put just the right amount of peanut butter and jelly on my favorite type of bread, pull the crust off, and then cut it into little squares. To a termite, your house is this perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Someone has come in, brought in an all you can eat sampling of different types of wood from across the country (the imported stuff is always the best) and piled it up just for you! Termites just simply wouldn’t voluntarily leave a feast like that.

Electrical Inspection– Adding to your service

During a BIS electrical inspection I frequently get people telling me they want to do some remodeling to the house once they get in and they want to know if they need to update the electrical service. There is no simple answer to this question. To answer this questions, a qualified electrician needs to perform a load calculation on the existing service, and then compare that to the new load requirements.

Air Conditioning Inspection – Why do I need to change my filter every month?

Without getting too technical, I’ll try to explain the chain reaction a dirty filter can cause. A fan inside your unit draws the air in from inside your house, through the filter, and across extremely cold pipes filled with refrigerant (the coil). If your filter gets too dirty, it restricts the air flow across the coil. Think of the refrigerant inside the coils as water in a river. You can have a river flowing in below freezing temperatures because of the rapid movement of the water. It’s the same thing in the coil. However once you slow down that air flow (due to the debris on the filter), the refrigerant in the coil will begin to freeze just like the water would in the river if you created a dam to slow the flow of water. Once the refrigerant freezes and stops flowing, you now have created a blockage in the compressor (which acts like a pump for the refrigerant). The pump has to work many times harder to try and pump through the frozen refrigerant and will eventually fail. Once this happens, you have now caused the failure of almost every major component of the air conditioning system which could add up to several thousands of dollars when it could have been avoided by a $5 filter each month.

Structural Inspection – How can a little crack cause such big problems?

Houses today are built to move. They expand and contract with the heat and are built to withstand settlement and high winds. When structures move, it creates small hairline cracks at the exterior walls. Although they look harmless enough, even the smallest crack can allow moisture to penetrate the structure. This can cause unsightly water stains, mold development and even structural problems. (see our future blog on mold issues)