Tune Ups Are Not Just For Cars

With the rising cost of gasoline we hear a lot about tuning up your car, but have you considered tuning up your home?

Yes, homes need tune ups also. We often neglect the things that work but most often those are the things that need scheduled maintenance the most. We can save a lot of money in energy costs by taking care of the house, and avoid repair costs due to neglect.

The most obvious but the most overlooked is your furnace filter. We call it a furnace filter but actually it filters your homes air whether it be for the furnace winter time use or the summer A/C. The filter should be changed per the filter manufacturers specifications. If you buy the cheap 50 cent filters, they need changed every month. These are only good for filtering basketballs and large toys. The better filters starting in cost from $4 and up are your best choice and need changing less often – every couple of months.

If you have never had your HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) system cleaned and tuned now is the time. With summer heat, the A/C needs to function as cool as possible. For the best cleaning, call a professional for a complete cleaning. The professional can clean areas of the A-coil Evaporator that you do not see but can build up with a nasty mess, restricting air flow and dramatically decreasing efficiency. A HVAC professional will also clean the condenser unit (the outside unit) and will check refrigerant levels. While they are there, go ahead and have them tune the furnace as well.

If you do not have a programmable thermostat this can be great way to save money and the payback is within a few months.

What does all of this cost? Most HVAC tune ups run around $100 plus refrigerant or replacement parts. This is cheap considering the cost to efficiently run your system. If this is outside your budget right now, at least change your filter and hose down the condenser unit. If you have a lot of vegetation growing around the condenser, trim it back at least a couple feet so the unit can breath.

All of these things will save you money and keep your home cool and warm.

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Evict Non-Paying Renters!

While not necessarily required, weather caps and spark arrestors are recommended for chimney terminations. Weather caps help to keep water out of the chimney. Spark arrestors help to keep burning embers from setting fire to your house and the neighbors houses.

Weather caps also help to keep out non-paying renters, such as birds, squirrels and raccoons. I took this picture this week at a house in Raytown, and thought I’d share it. This is a view looking down a chimney from the roof. Thats a raccoon staring back, with an entire family down there as well.

You Get What You Paid For

We have all heard the phrase “You get what you pay for.” We’re firm believers in continuing education and – yes – this all costs time and money.

Sadly, there are many inspectors offering big discounts at the buyer’s expense. What do I mean by that? When an inspector offers a discount, it’s usually for a reason. Many times it’s because of their lack of experience or lack of education. Because they don’t invest in themselves, thereby making them better at their profession, they choose to skimp on that aspect of their business and pass that “savings” on to you.

For example, lets talk about radon measurements. In KC there are about 250 inspectors, full time and part time. Almost all of these inspectors offer radon measurements. But how many have taken the time to take the Kansas radon measurement courses offered by Kansas State University in conjuction with the Kansas Dept.of Health. The last time I checked only about 10% have taken this course and are certified to offer Radon Measurements. 

It takes a lot of time and money to go to this level. Wouldn’t it be comforting to know that the person testing your home for a class “A” carcinogen actually knows what he/she is doing and why? Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and you may have selected the person to measure your home based on price and not expertise and training. The Kansas Radon Proficiency Program will only list providers that are trained and tested, but doesn’t list their price. (Yes, we’re listed there). When we finished our initial inspector-training courses we did not stop there. We continue to take additional courses several times a year to provide the best service to you that we can provide.

So the next time you think you are saving a little money by hiring or referring the cheapest inspector, think again. We can save the client money because we understand the whole home system better through our continuing education. Some of the continued education courses we have taken include National Fire Safety, National Environmental Health Association Radon Proficiency, Roofing, Exterior Cladding Systems, Electrical Systems, this is just a few. Not only can we inspect these systems with more knowledge, we can also explain what we report. So the next time you think you saved fifty bucks on an inspection, think again. The true cost may end up being much more than that.

The best compliment I have received is a “thank you” from a real estate agent saying I made them look good for the referral.

Passing a Home Inspection

I don’t normally watch the show “King of the Hill”, but I thought I’d share this episode with you.

Home inspectors often get asked during an inspection “will [a certain problem] make this home fail the inspection?” The answer is NO. Home inspections are not a pass/fail situation. A thorough home inspection is for your benefit. During the course of the inspection, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the house. It’s your chance to follow a knowledgeable professional around the house and ask questions about how the house is constructed, how the components operate, and to find out what kind of defects may or may not exist.

This episode shows a home inspector “failing” a house, which can’t be done by an independent home inspector. But it’s still funny. Click HERE to watch.

Leaks, Leaks, and More Leaks!

The Exterior Design Institute (EDI), based in Norfolk, Virginia, is “a non-profit organization founded for the purpose of training and certifying Building Envelop and EIFS Inspectors and Moisture Analysts to promote quality control within the EIFS industry.”

Recently, the authors of this website were certified by EDI to perform building envelope inspections.

The “building envelope”, in simple terms, is the outside of our homes. Water infiltration is the #1 cause of damage to any residence. Moisture enters the home in many different ways. It also originates inside the home, and tries to get out in many different places. Locating and resolving those sources of moisture intrusion quickly can drastically reduce the causes of costly damage to any residence.

When hiring an inspector, consider their qualifications. Have you ever heard the adage “If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail?” If your inspector doesn’t have the proper training to diagnose problems in a house you’re buying or selling, will the inspector be any help to you?

We’re here to help.

“No Inspection Contingencies”

Prior to a recent inspection on a house in the Kansas City area, I had the opportunity to read the MLS remarks on the house. The remark included these words: “No inspection contingencies no disclosures or warranties”.

I suspect the owners intentions were that the house was being sold “as-is”. But if you’re in the market to buy a house, and you read those words describing a house you’re looking at, a little voice inside your head should be screaming, at the top of its lungs, GET AN INSPECTION!!

In the case of the house I was inspecting, part of the roof needed replacement this year, and the entire roof within 5 years. The basement leaked. The furnace was subject to a recall about 20 years ago but was never serviced.

These kinds of problems can be costly to an unsuspecting buyer. Obviously, we believe that anyone buying a home should get an inspection. But when a seller looks you in the eye (figuratively, of course), and says you cannot have an inspection contingency in your contract, then you should suspect the seller has something to hide. When you read the words “No Inspection Contingency”, you should translate that to mean “Home Inspection REQUIRED”. 

What Do Home Inspections and NCAA Basketball Have in Common?

ku.jpgAs far as I can tell….Nothing. 

But it is my excuse for slacking off on regular postings. Between watching basketball and working, our attention has been diverted elsewhere.

 But the NCAA Final Four is this weekend, so things should return to normal, and we’ll work to get more home inspection related blogs written.

Go Jayhawks!